Michael Tomasello’s book “Becoming Human: A Theory of Ontogeny” (Harvard University Press, 2019) has received the 2019 Williams James Book Award from the American Psychological Association, among the most prestigious awards in the field.
In making the award, the association lauded the book as offering “an exceptionally broad, multi-level, and cross-cutting scope [that] engages with basic, enduring questions. It exemplifies the best that can be accomplished from the standpoint of a truly general psychology.”
The book grapples with fundamental questions about what makes us human and how culture arose and describes how cooperation shapes human development. It has been hailed by reviewers as “magisterial.”
Tomasello is the James F. Bonk Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke. His lab studies how and why young children develop the social and cognitive skills that enable them to cooperate and communicate as adults. The lab also conducts comparative studies of skill development among young human children and great apes. His previous books include “Origins of Human Communication” (MIT Press, 2008) and “Why We Cooperate” (MIT Press, 2009).