Professor at Leiden University

The perception of emotional body language across species

The CoPAN labgroup is part of the Leiden University LIBC and the Institute of Psychology, the Cognitive Psychology Unit, and is affiliated with the Cognition Behavior and Evolution Network CBEN. We study expressions of emotion and their impact on social decision making across species.

Aim. Our primary aim is to get insight into the psychological and neurophysiological underpinnings of emotions and social decisions in humans as well as in great apes.

Key words. Comparative psychology, evolutionary cognition, emotion processing, great apes, body language, facial expressions, pupil size, mimicry and physiological synchrony, mood disorders, trust-distrust and cooperation-deception.

Methods. The research methods vary from fMRI, psychophysiology (pupillometry, thermography, heart rate, skin conductance), eye-tracking, transcutaneous vagal nerve stimulation, continuous flash suppression to behavioral observations in animals (including the Facial Action Coding System).

Open Science. Since 2019, we started to preregister our studies on AsPredicted. All datasets and study materials of our published work can be found on Also, several preprints can be found on bioRxiv and on PsyArxiv.

We are always looking for students who want to gain research experience. Read here about the projects but please email for updates.

Students Daan Laméris, Berta Roura Torres and Evy van Berlo spent three months in Rwanda to study chimpanzees. Daan made this amazing video.

Watch my talk at the Just Peace festival in the Hague.

With help of crowdfunding, we hope to be able to make Tinder for orangutans actually happen! Will you help us too?

Can we learn from the bonobo? Read more here.

Waarom wij van panda’s houden. Lees hier meer over.

Eliska and Friederike on our research in collaboration with Apenheul.

Watch this video from Chloe and Cleo at the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute, performing our experiment.

Watch this video from the LIBC publiekssymposium 2016.

Watch here a pitch about my research for the New Scientist Wetenschapstalent Award.

Watch my talk on the evening of the actual competition for the New Scientist Wetenschapstalent Award.

PhD student Evy van Berlo about her new research project with the bonobo (in Dutch, one video down is the same video in English).

PhD student Eliska Prochazkova about our experiment at Lowlands festival. August 19th-21st 2016.

School TV Rauwkost on our experiment at Lowlands festival. August 19th-21st 2016.

Beautiful video by PhD student Evy van Berlo of two bonobos, mother and child, embracing.

On March 8th, 2016, Prof. Matsuzawa and Jan van Hooff went into discussion at the Leiden Sieboldhuis.

On November 6th, 2016, the LIBC public symposium ‘the Social Brain’ took place in ‘de Leidse Schouwburg’.

Presentation for the broader audience at NWO Bessensap in Utrecht. June 12th, 2015.

Video of my lay talk, just prior to my Ph.D. defence on June 1st, 2011 at Tilburg University.


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