The Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior at its sites in Konstanz and Radolfzell offers an international, interdisciplinary, and cooperative environment that opens up unique research opportunities. The goal of our basic research is to develop a quantitative and predictive understanding of the decisions and movements of animals in their natural environment.

For the Development and Evolution of Cognition Research Group at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior we are looking to fill the following position starting in January 2023 (earlier start date is possible). The position is temporary for 9 - 12 months.

Technician Assistant (m/f/d) Development and Evolution of Cognition
100 % / optional part time

This position is based at the Development and Evolution of Cognition Research Group at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Konstanz, Germany. Our team to date includes 2 Postdocs, 2 PhD students, 2 Technicians, as well as Master and Bachelor students. This research project is part of a collaborative project which is partly funded by the VW Freigeist Foundation and aims at testing the cognitive performance and curiosity in orangutans, chimpanzees and humans.

The research:
Humans deliberately innovate, even in the absence of any problem to solve. This desire to learn and know, i.e. curiosity, seems to set humans apart from other species. Being curious has powerful consequences on the individual level. Through increased innovation rates, curious individuals transform their cognitive capacity into skills and knowledge faster than uncurious individuals. As such, curiosity may be a key psychological trait that makes cognitive potential visible for natural selection. Therefore, to fully understand cognitive evolution, aside from external factors, it is crucial to take key psychological motivations and their development within individuals into account. The project will investigate the interplay between cognitive performance and the psychological motivation of curiosity in wild, sanctuary- and zoo-housed orangutans and chimpanzees, as well as in humans from different societies.

Your tasks and your profile:
The research assistant will assist with data collection and independently collect data on cognitive performance and curiosity in captive chimpanzees and orangutans in different European zoos and potentially Sanctuaries in Zambia or Indonesia. In addition, the candidate will code the collected data using a video coding software. Together with our team’s technicians, the candidate may also collect detailed behavioral data on the apes, following our established data collection protocol which we use for wild apes. The position requires a state accreditation as a technician assistant or appropriate qualifications based on your professional experience or a university degree in biology, psychology, or a related field

We seek a highly motivated candidate with a detail-oriented way of working, patience, a strong sense of responsibility and excellent observation skills. Experience conducting cognitive experiments with great apes, other primates or large-brained birds in captivity/wild is required. We are looking for a candidate that is able to work independently and has excellent team working skills. The position further requires excellent organizational skills and the ability to communicate effectively with zoo staff. Very good spoken and written English skills are required, German skills are desirable. Technical knowledge to repair test equipment if needed, a driver's license and experience in coding behavioral data is desirable but not required. The candidate must be willing to travel and live close to the respective zoo for several weeks/months during the data collection phase.

Our offer:
We offer an interesting job in an open-minded team, a responsible and varied workplace in an interdisciplinary and international research institute. The payment is made in accordance with the experience and qualifications and the collective agreement for the public service (TVÖD Bund).

Questions about the position will be answered by Dr. Isabelle Laumer (
The Max Planck Institute endeavors to employ more severely disabled people. Applicants of severely disabled persons are expressly welcome. The Max Planck Society strives for gender and diversity equality. We welcome applications from all backgrounds.

Are you interested? Then we look forward to receiving your application until December 19th, 2022 with your CV containing your academic track record, the contact information of two references and a motivation letter through our online portal.

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