Professor Mark Nielsen


School of Psychology
Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences
+61 7 336 56414


Mark joined the School of Psychology in 2002 as a UQ Postdoctoral Research Fellow after completing his PhD at La Trobe University. His research interests lie in a range of inter-related aspects of socio-cognitive development in young human children and non-human primates. His current research is primarily focused on charting the origins and development of human cultural cognition.

He is:

  • a Senior Research Associate, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
  • a member of: Association for Psychological Science; Society for Research in Child Development; Australasian Human Development Association
  • an Associate Editor: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology; PLoS ONE
  • an Editorial Consultant: Child Development; Developmental Science

Research Impacts

Mark has forged an international reputation for cutting-edge research on multiple aspects of developmental social cognition. Based on the quality of his research, he was presented with an Early Career Researcher Award from the International Society on Infant Studies (2006), a Research Excellence Award from the (then) Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (2009), and in 2016 was made a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. He has published over 100 papers, had his research feature in over 80 conference presentations and over 15 invited conference and colloquia talks.


  • Postgraduate Diploma, La Trobe University
  • Bachelor of Science, Flinders University


View all Publications


  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision


Book Chapter

  • Nielsen, Mark, Fong, Frankie T. K. and Whiten, Andrew (2021). Social learning from media: the need for a culturally diachronic developmental psychology. Advances in Child Development and Behavior. (pp. 317-334) edited by Jeffrey J. Lockman. San Diego, CA, USA: Academic Press. doi: 10.1016/bs.acdb.2021.04.001

  • Kirkland, Kelly, Jetten, Jolanda and Nielsen, Mark (2019). But that's not fair! The experience of economic inequality from a child's perspective. The Social Psychology of Inequality. (pp. 187-199) edited by Jolanda Jetten and Kim Peters. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-28856-3_12

  • Shipton, Ceri and Nielsen, Mark (2018). The acquisition of biface knapping skill in the Acheulean. Evolution of Primate Social Cognition. (pp. 283-297) edited by Laura Desirèe Di Paolo, Fabio Di Vincenzo and Francesca De Petrillo. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-93776-2_18

  • Nielsen, Mark (2015). Pretend Play and Cognitive Development. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition. (pp. 870-876) Orlando, FL, USA: Elsevier . doi: 10.1016/B978-0-08-097086-8.23073-0

  • Nielsen, Mark and Susianto, Erna W. E. (2010). Failure to find over-imitation in captive orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus): Implications for our understanding of cross-generation information transfer. Developmental Psychology. (pp. 153-167) edited by Johan Håkansson. New York. NY, U.S.A.: Nova Science Publishers.

  • Nielsen, Mark and Slaughter, Virginia (2007). Multiple motivations for imitation in infancy. Imitation and Social Learning in Robots, Humans and Animals: Behavioural, Social and Communicative Dimensions. (pp. 343-360) edited by Nehaniv, Chrystopher L. and Dautenhahn, Kerstin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511489808.023

  • Nielsen, Mark G. and Slaughter, Virginia (2007). Multiple motivations for imitation in infancy. Imitation and social learning in robots, humans and animals. (pp. 343-359) edited by Nehaniv, C. L. and Dautenhahn, K.. United States: Cambridge University Press.

  • Randell, A. C. and Nielsen, M. G. (2006). Children's communication of pretend acts using social cues. Frontiers in Cognitive Psychology. (pp. 127-144) edited by M.A. Vanchevsky. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc..

  • Nielsen, M. G., Suddendorf, T. and Dissanayake, C. (2006). Imitation and self-recogntion in autism: In search of an explanation. Imitation and the Social Mind: Autism and Typical Development. (pp. 138-197) edited by S.J. Rogers and J.H.G. Williams. New York, NY United States: The Guilford Press.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Davidson, Rebecca, Sommer, Kristyn and Nielsen, Mark (2019). Children's Judgments of Anti-Social Behaviour Towards a Robot: Liking and Learning. 14th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), Daegu South Korea, 11-14 March 2019. Piscataway, NJ United States: IEEE. doi: 10.1109/HRI.2019.8673075

  • Owada, Kei, Nielsen, Mark, Lau, Colleen, Clements, Archie, Yakob, Laith and Magalhaes, Ricardo J. Soares (2017). Measuring the effect of soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections on cognitive function in children: systematic review and critical appraisal of evidence. 65th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH), Atlanta, GA United States, 13-16 November, 2016. Deerfield, IL United States: American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

  • Hensby, Kristyn, Wiles, Janet, Boden, Marie, Heath, Scott, Nielsen, Mark, Pounds, Paul, Riddell, Joshua, Rogers, Kristopher, Rybak, Nikodem, Slaughter, Virginia, Smith, Michael, Taufatofua, Jonathon, Worthy, Peter and Weigel, Jason (2016). Hand in hand: tools and techniques for understanding children's touch with a social robot. 11th Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, HRI 2016, Christchurch, New Zealand, 7-10 March 2016. Piscataway, NJ, United States: IEEE Computer Society. doi: 10.1109/HRI.2016.7451794

  • Slaughter, Virginia, Oostenbroek, Janine, Suddendorf, Thomas and Nielsen, Mark (2013). Is the human mirror system operational at birth?. ACNS-2013 Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Society Conference, Melbourne, Australia, 28 Nov - 1 Dec, 2013. Lausanne, Switzerland: Frontiers Research Foundation. doi: 10.3389/conf.fnhum.2013.212.00043

  • Suddendorf, T., Simcock, G., Nielsen, M. and Collier-Baker, E. (2006). The development of self-recognition in mirrors and live videos. 33rd Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference, Bardon Conference Centre, Brisbane, 20-23 April, 2006. London: Taylor and Francis. doi: 10.1080/00049530600940016

  • Collier-Baker, E, Davis, JM, Suddendorf, T and Nielsen, M (2004). Do chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) understand invisible displacement?. BASEL: KARGER.

  • Nielsen, M. G. and Dissanayake, C. A. (2003). Synchronic imitation as pre-linguistic social interaction. AISB '03 Cognition in Machines & Animals, Aberystwyth, Wales, 7-11 April 2003. Aberystwyth, United Kingdom: The Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence.

  • Nielsen, M. G. and Dissanayake, C.A. (2002). Deferred imitation and the onset of pretend play in the second year. Perspectives on Imitation: From Cognitive Neuroscience to Social Science, Paris, France, May 2002.

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision