Tamsin German

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Research Area

Developmental and Evolutionary Psychology


Tamsin German studied Experimental Psychology at Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford, earning her B.A. in Experimental Psychology (1991), before moving to London to study at the Medical Research Council Cognitive Development Unit and the Department of Psychological & Brain sciences, University College London. She earned her Ph. D. in Psychology (1995). After a short appointment as a visiting Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Center for Cognitive Science at Rutgers University during 1995 and a first faculty position at the Department of Psychology, University of Essex, UK, from 1996-2001, Tamsin accepted her current position at UCSB.


Tamsin German studies questions in Psychological Science from a cognitive and developmental perspective. Current work focuses on i) how early and reliably developing core knowledge systems that underpin our understanding of the natural world are implicated in forming representations of supernatural concepts (i.e. concepts of the extraordinary divine entities that are the focus of religious belief? ii) what cognitive mechanisms might exist to guard humans against the threat posed by unreliable information communicated by others and iii) how might cognitive systems for interpreting other peoples’ behavior be influenced by their group memberships. The CDL also works in collaboration with other labs in Psychological and Brain Sciences to better understand romantic and sexual partner choice among LGBTQ people.

Selected Publications

Mermelstein, S., Barlev, M., & German, T. C. (2020). She told me about a singing cactus: Enhanced memory for the speakers of counterintuitive versus ordinary concepts. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. doi: 10.1037/xge0000987. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/6cp8e 

Barlev, M., Mermelstein, S., Cohen, A. S., & German, T. C. (2019). The Embodied God: Core intuitions about person physicality coexist and interfere with acquired Christian beliefs about God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus. Cognitive Science, 43, e12784. doi: 10.1111/cogs.12784  

Barlev, M., Mermelstein, S., & German, T. C. (2018). Representational coexistence in the God concept: Core knowledge intuitions of God as a person are not revised by Christian theology despite lifelong experience. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 1 - 9. 

Barlev, M., Mermelstein, S., & German, T. C. (2017). Core intuitions about persons coexist and interfere with acquired Christian beliefs about God. Cognitive Science​, 41(S3), 425 - 454.  

Cohen, A. S., Sasaki, J. Y., & German, T.C. (2015). Specialized mechanisms for theory of mind: Are mental representations special because they are mental or because they are representations? Cognition136, 49-63. 

Cohen, A. S., Sasaki, J. Y., German, T. C., & Kim, H. S. (2015). Automatic Mechanisms for Social Attention Are Culturally Penetrable. Cognitive Science, 41, 242-258.

New, Joshua J., & German, Tamsin C. (2015). Spiders at the Cocktail Party: An Ancestral Threat that Surmounts Inattentional Blindness.  Evolution and Human Behavior, 36, 165-173. 

Pietraszewski, D., & German, T.C. (2013) Coalitional psychology on the playground: Reasoning about indirect social consequences in preschoolers and adults. Cognition126. 352-363