Ben Kenward CV

Education and employment

2016 - : Lecturer, Department of Psychology, Oxford Brookes University, UK.

2005 - 2015: Researcher, Department of Psychology, Uppsala University, Sweden.

2006 - 2015: Part-time lecturer, Departments of Psychology and Zoology, Stockholm University, Sweden.

2000 - 2005: PhD: “Why do New Caledonian crows use tools?”, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK.

1999 - 2000: Volunteer research assistant, Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, Sweden.

1996 - 1999: BA in Biological Sciences, University of Oxford, UK.

Research Interests

Because climate and ecological breakdown currently present an existential threat to human civilisations, I have shifted research focus on to psychological aspects of these crises. So far, I have been monitoring how UK public opinion on the environment has been influenced by COVID-19 and by the Extinction Rebellion, and examined how morality and artifical intelligence relate to the crises.

The thread running through my previous work was a desire to better understand the interplay between genetically inherited tendencies and individual and social learning in the development of behaviour. I focused on social behaviour in young children. One particular interest was in how preschoolers' moral judgements of other people's behaviour affects the preschoolers' own behaviour towards them (Kenward & Dahl, 2011; Kenward & Östh, 2012, 2015). It seems that, in the laboratory at least, preschoolers reward those who help others, and punish those who are anti-social. Such indirect reciprocity is what enables cooperative networks in adult societies, and work in progress aims to test whether such behaviour fosters the development of cooperation in preschoolers' real social groups. Another interest was in what motivates preschoolers to imitate others (Kenward et al., 2011, Kenward, 2012).

My previous focus was on the development of goal-directed behaviour in children, by which I mean behaviour motivated by knowledge of and desire for an action’s consequences. Such goal-directedness has only been demonstrated with any certainly by manipulating the value of an action’s outcome and detecting a consequent change in the tendency to perform the action. I have pioneered the application of this method in infants and toddlers (Kenward et al., 2009). The results are surprising and are currently causing me to question the widespread and intuitive assumption that infants are motivated to act because they expect and desire the consequences of their actions. In related work, however, I have demonstrated that 10-month-olds do expect the outcome of their actions (Kenward, 2010), indicating a possible disconnection between infants’ knowledge and their ability to use such knowledge to motivate action. Other infant work includes studies of gaze following (Gredebäck et al., 2008).

My doctoral work focussed on the development of tool use and manufacture in juvenile New Caledonian crows. I demonstrated that the basic skills arise primarily through interplay of inherited tendencies and individual learning, although social learning also plays a role (Kenward et al., 2005a; Kenward et al., 2006). I have also studied the laterality of tool use (Weir et al., 2004), proposed a hypothesis to explain its evolution (Kenward et al., submitted-b), studied the ecology of the species (Kenward et al., 2004a), and contributed to several reviews of crow tool use (Kacelnik et al., 2006; Kacelnik et al., 2004).

Other previous work has included the theoretical study of the evolution of animal communication using neural network models of signal receivers (Kenward et al. 2004b), and the development of an outdoor Skinner box for studying learning in wild squirrel populations (Kenward et al., 2005b).

Funding awarded

2012 – 2015: PI. Early moral development: from infants’ prosocial preferences to co-operation between pre-schoolers. Swedish research council. 421-2011-1785. Amount: 2 700 000 SEK.

2012 – 2016: Co-applicant. Unifying the field of developmental social cognition. Swedish research council. Amount: 10 000 000 SEK.

2009 – 2012: PI. A psychological perspective on early moral development. The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Fund. P2008-01039:1. Amount: 2 040 000 SEK.



Kenward, B. & Brick, C. (in press). Even Conservative voters want the environment to be at the heart of post-COVID-19 economic reconstruction in the UK. Journal of Social and Political Psychology. [link]

Kenward, B. & Sinclair, T. (in press). Machine morality, moral progress, and the looming environmental disaster. Cognitive Computation and Systems. [link]

Arini, R., Wiggs, L., & Kenward, B. (in press). Moral duty and equalisation concerns motivate children’s third-party punishment. Developmental Psychology.

Marciszko, C., Forssman, L., Kenward, B., Lindskog, M., Fransson, M., & Gredebäck, G. (in press). The social foundation of executive function. Developmental Science. [link]

Eriksson, M., Kenward, B., Poom, L., & Stenberg, G. (in press). The behavioral effects of cooperative and competitive board games in preschoolers. The Scandinavian Journal of Psychology.

Astor, K., Lindskog, M., Forssman, L., Kenward, B., Fransson, M., Skalkidou, A., . . . Gredebäck, G. (2020). Social and emotional contexts predict the development of gaze following in early infancy. Royal Society Open Science, 7(201178). [link]

Kenward, B. & Pilling., M. (2019). The now-moment is believed privileged because now is when happening is experienced (Commentary article). Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 42, e259.

Kenward, B., Berggren, M., Kitazaki, M., Itakura, S., & Kanakogi, Y. (2019). Implicit social associations for geometric-shape agents more strongly influenced by visual form than by explicitly identified social actions. Psychologia, 61(1), 37-52. [link]

Lindskog, M., Rogell, M., Kenward, B., & Gredebäck, G. (2019). Discrimination of small forms in a deviant-detection paradigm by 10-month-old infants. Frontiers in Psychology, 10(1032). [link]

Juvrud, J., Bakker, M., Kaduk, K., DeValk, J. M., Gredebäck, G., & Kenward, B. (2018). Longitudinal continuity in understanding and production of giving-related behavior from infancy to childhood. Child Development, online first:

Kenward, B., Koch, F., Forssman, L., Brehm, J., Tidemann, I., Sundqvist, A., . . . Gredebäck, G. (2017). Saccadic reaction times in infants and adults: spatiotemporal factors, gender, and inter-laboratory variation. Developmental Psychology. [Full open science repository]

Shutts, K., Kenward, B., Falk, H., Ivegran, A., & Fawcett, C. (2017). Early preschool environments and gender: effects of gender pedagogy in Sweden. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 162, 1-17.

Forslund, T., Kenward, B., Granqvist, P., Gredebäck, G., & Brocki, K. C. (2016). Diminished ability to identify facial emotional expressions in children with disorganized attachment representations. Developmental Science, n/a-n/a. doi:10.1111/desc.12465

Gredebäck, G., Kaduk, K., Bakker, M., Gottwald, J., Ekberg, T., Elsner, C., . . . Kenward, B. (2015). The neuropsychology of infants’ pro-social preferences. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 12, 106-113

Kenward, B., Hellmer, K., Söderström Winter, L., & Eriksson, M. (2015). Four-year-olds' strategic allocation of resources: attempts to elicit reciprocation correlate negatively with spontaneous helping. Cognition, 136, 1-8

Kenward, B. & Östh, T. (2015). Five-year-olds punish antisocial adults. Aggressive Behavior, 41, 413-420. [download]

Kenward, B. & Gredebäck, G. (2013). Infants help a non-human agent. PLOS One. [download]

Kenward, B. & Östh, T. (2012). Enactment of third-party punishment by 4-year-olds. Frontiers in Psychology. [download]

Kenward, B. (2012). Over-imitating preschoolers believe unnecessary actions are normative and enforce their performance by a third party. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. [download]

Kenward, B. & Dahl, M. (2011). Preschoolers distribute resources according to recipients' moral status. Developmental Psychology, 47, 1054-1064. [download]

Kenward, B. & Nilsson, D. (2011). Catching of balls unexpectedly thrown and unexpectedly fired by cannon. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 113, 171-187. [download]

Kenward, B., Karlsson, M. & Persson, J. (2011). Over-imitation is better explained by norm learning than by distorted causal learning. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 278, 1239-1246. [link]

Kenward, B. (2010). 10-month infants visually anticipate the outcome of a learnt action. Infancy, 15, 337-361. [download]

Lopes, M., Melo, F., Kenward, B. & Santos-Victor, J. (2009). A computational model of social-learning mechanisms. Adaptive Behavior, 17, 467-483. [link]

Kenward, B., Folke, S., Holmberg, J., Johansson, A. & Gredebäck, G. (2009). Goal-directedness and decision making in infants. Developmental Psychology, 45, 809-819. [download]

Gredebäck, G., Theuring, C., Hauf, P. & Kenward, B. (2008). The microstructure of infants' gaze during perception of overt attention shifts. Infancy, 13, 533-543.

Other animals

Kenward, B., Schloegl, C., Rutz, C., Weir, A. A. S., Bugnyar, T. & Kacelnik, A. (2011). On the evolutionary and ontogenetic origins of tool-oriented behaviour in New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides).Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 102, 870-877. [download]

Kenward, B., Rutz, C., Weir, A. A. S. & Kacelnik, A. (2006). Development of tool use in New Caledonian crows: inherited action patterns and social influence. Animal Behaviour, 72, 1329-1343. [download]

Kacelnik, A., Chappell, J., Weir, A. A. S. & Kenward, B. (2006). Cognitive adaptations for tool-related behaviour in New Caledonian crows. In: Comparative cognition: Experimental explorations of animal intelligence (Ed. by Wasserman, E. A. & Zentall, T. R.), pp. 515-528. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kenward, B., Weir, A. A. S., Rutz, C. & Kacelnik, A. (2005a). Tool manufacture by naive juvenile crows. Nature, 433, 121-121. [download]

Kenward, B., Kenward, R. E. & Kacelnik, A. (2005b). An automatic technique for selective feeding and logging of individual wild squirrels. Ethology Ecology & Evolution, 17, 271-277.

Kenward, B., Rutz, C., Weir, A. A. S., Chappell, J. & Kacelnik, A. (2004a). Morphology and sexual dimorphism of the New Caledonian crow Corvus moneduloides, with notes on its behaviour and ecology. Ibis, 146, 652-660. [download]

Kenward, B., Wachtmeister, C. A., Ghirlanda, S. & Enquist, M. (2004b). Spots and stripes: the evolution of repetition in visual signal form. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 230, 407-419. [download]

Weir, A. A. S., Kenward, B., Chappell, J. & Kacelnik, A. (2004). Lateralization of tool use in New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides). Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B (Suppl.), 271, S344–S346. [download]

Kacelnik, A., Chappell, J., Weir, A. A. S. & Kenward, B. (2004). Tool use and manufacture in birds. In: Encyclopedia of animal behavior (Ed. by Bekoff, M.), pp. 1067-1069. Westport, CT, US: Greenwood Publishing Group.