Psychology Lectures at Nobel Forum

The KI Psychology Speaker Series at Nobel Forum features some of the most influential researchers of today in the realms of mind, brain and behavior. The speaker series is hosted by the Division of Psychology at Karolinska Institutet.


Karolinska Institutet Psychology Speaker Series at Nobel Forum presents:


Due to the current situation with Covid-19 we have cancelled the lecture below. We will arrange for this lecture to take place at a later date.


Inaugural guest speaker: C. H. Candler Professor Emeritus Frans B. M. de Waal, Emory University, and Utrecht University.

The event will be opened by: KI President Ole Petter Ottersen

April 3rd at 14-15.30. Lecture hall: TBA

Notify your attendance here

Evolution of Emotions and Empathy in the Primates

Frans B.M. de Waal, C. H. Candler Professor Emeritus, Emory University, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Utrecht

Frans B.M. de Waal, C. H. Candler Professor Emeritus, Emory University, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Utrecht

Emotions suffuse much of the language employed by students of animal behavior -- from "social bonding" to "alarm calls" -- yet are still regularly avoided as explicit topic in scientific discourse. Given the increasing interest of human psychology in the emotions, and the neuroscience on animal emotions such as fear and attachment, the taboo that has hampered animal research in this area is outdated. It is crucial to separate emotions from feelings, which are subjective experiences that accompany the emotions. Whereas science has no access to animal feelings, animal emotions are as observable and measurable (face, voice, physiology, neural activity) as human emotions. They are mental and bodily states that potentiate behavior appropriate to mostly social situations. I will discuss early ideas about animal emotions and draw upon research on empathy and the perception of emotions in primates to make the point that the study of animal emotions is a necessary complement to the study of behavior. Emotions are best viewed as the organizers of adaptive responses to environmental stimuli.

Dr. Frans B. M. de Waal is a Dutch/American biologist and primatologist known for his work on the behavior and social intelligence of primates. His first book, Chimpanzee Politics (1982), compared the schmoozing and scheming of chimpanzees involved in power struggles with that of human politicians. His scientific work has been published in hundreds of technical articles in journals such as Science, Nature, Scientific American, and outlets specialized in animal behavior. His popular books - translated into 20+ languages - have made him one of the world's most visible primatologists. His latest books are Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are? (Norton, 2016) and Mama’s Last Hug (Norton, 2019). De Waal is C. H. Candler Professor Emeritus at Emory University and Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Utrecht University. He has been elected to the (US) National Academy of Sciences as well as the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2007, Time declared him one of The Worlds’ 100 Most Influential People Today.