Photo of Matthew Campbell
Assistant Professor: Psychology

Contact Information


Ph.D. Psychology, University of Wisconsin – Madison, 2006
B.S. Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology, Emory University, 1999


Dr. Campbell studies the complex social behavior of nonhuman animals. For several years he has been exploring basic forms of empathy in chimpanzees by looking at the copying of facial expressions. Using contagious yawning as a measure of an empathic connection, Dr. Campbell found that chimpanzees would show contagious yawning when watching yawns from their friends and family, but not when watching yawns from strange chimpanzees [1]. This difference is an example of an ingroup-outgroup bias, which are typical of measures of empathy. Other studies revealed that chimpanzees would catch yawns from humans [2] and even 3D computer animations [3], implying positive engagement with these stimuli on some level. Dr. Campbell is currently studying the chimpanzees at the Los Angeles Zoo to build on these results. Dr. Campbell hopes that studying empathy in chimpanzees will benefit mental health, public health, and our understanding of human evolution.

For his doctoral dissertation at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Dr. Campbell studied the social learning of skills needed by captive primates to survive in the wild. Captive-bred animals lack much of the basic skills and knowledge that wild animals acquire during development. Working with captive-bred cotton-top tamarins, a small monkey native to Colombia, Dr. Campbell characterized the mobbing response of the monkeys [4] and confirmed that captive-bred cotton-top tamarins do not recognize snakes as predators [5]. Next, Dr. Campbell tried to condition the tamarins to mob a snake, but this was unsuccessful [5]. These results illustrate how challenging it is to prepare captive-bred animals for life in the wild. Dr. Campbell hopes to continue this line of research as he sees it as a way for the field of psychology to contribute to biodiversity conservation.

Other topics of research include cooperation, deception, food sharing, music preference, learning of novel foods, and auditory and olfactory recognition of predators. Many of these projects were lead by graduate and undergraduate students, and Dr. Campbell is excited that CSUCI students are involved in his research.


Additional Teaching and Research Information