Dr. Bergman is interested in social behavior and social cognition from an evolutionary perspective. His research on social cognition in primates focuses on the cognitive abilities that underlie social behavior. Specifically, he looks at how dominance and family relationships structure primate social groups and then ask what do the members of these groups know about this structure? Ultimately, he is interested in the causal connections between sociality and cognition. Dr. Bergman is also interested in vocal communication, primarily as it relates to other social behaviors. How do vocalizations mediate social interactions? What social factors might favor larger vocal repertoires? Much of his research addresses sexual selection, looking at how primates assess competitors and potential mates. Recently, he has become interested in hormone-behavior interactions. He uses non-invasive hormone sampling as a way to both measure the physiological consequences of behavior and to assess potential determinants of behavior. Finally, he is interested in the ways that ecology shapes social systems and behaviors.
Dr. Bergman’s research addresses these questions in two types of free ranging primates: 1) Gelada monkeys (Theropithecus gelada) in Ethiopia, and 3) Capuchins (Cebus capucinus) in Costa Rica. His research involves observation, vocal recordings, hormonal and genetic sampling, as well as playback experiments.