• Cognition Across Development Lab

  • What We Do

    We study how individuals learn about the social world around them.



    The Cognition Across Development (CAD) Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences explores the development of social cognition across human and nonhuman primates. Our research examines how young individuals make sense of and cope with the complex social world around them. The goal of our research in the CAD Lab is to better understand how early emerging aspects of cognition and perception help an individual thrive in their particular environment.

  • News

    Recent coverage of the people and the work in the CAD Lab

    Coverage of Mandalaywala, Benitez, Sagar, & Rhodes, 2021 Journal of Experimental Child Psychology paper on racial bias in children's resource allocations

    A profile on Dr. Mandalaywala's recent paper on children's use of gender and race as cues to status.

    Interview with Dr. Mandalaywala about why she's so excited to be at UMass!

    Coverage of Mandalaywala, Ranger-Murdock, Amodio, & Rhodes, 2018 Child Development paper on the development of racial essentialism in White and Black American children


    A profile on Dr. Mandalaywala and her experiences as a Puerto Rican-Indian studying Indian monkeys in Puerto Rico.

  • Our Current Research

    Individuals don’t develop in a bubble; they develop in the contexts of families, communities, and cultures. We study how variation in experience shapes cognition and behavior, and are particularly interested in how children adapt to their particular environment. We use methods from developmental and social psychology, behavioral endocrinology, and behavioral ecology to examine how the environment that an individual grows up in shapes their perceptions, beliefs, and biases about the world around them.

    Nonhuman primates

    In nonhuman primates, we study individuals across the lifespan, to explore how cognitive variation helps individuals thrive, even under less than ideal circumstances. Our current long-term project uses a mix of behavioral observations and cognitive assessments to study the long-term consequences of early life adversity in the rhesus macaques on Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico.

    Child Development

    Experiences don’t have to be adverse to shape social cognition, and our research in human development focuses on normative social cognitive development. We examine how parents and the neighborhoods children grow up in shape how they begin to think about others in terms of their gender, race, or social status. Understanding how children come to view certain social categories as special and salient can help us understand the developmental origins of problematic social phenomena, such as stereotyping, prejudice, and inequality.

  • Who We Are

    Picture of Tara (lab director) and their favorite animal, their cat Punkerton!

    Lab Director

    Assistant Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences


    Tara graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in Biological Anthropology, then from the University of Chicago with her Ph.D. in Comparative Human Development. She loves developing research studies to figure out how kids think about the people and places around them.

    Picture of Gorana (graduate student) and their favorite animal, a tamarin!

    Graduate Student

    Gorana graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Psychology and is a graduate student in the CAD lab. She's interested in children's conceptualization of racial categories, the development of racial identity, and racial privileges.

    Picture of Jordan (graduate student) and their favorite animal, a turtle!

    Jordan Legaspi

    Graduate Student

    Jordan graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Psychology and a Minor in Education Studies. Before Jordan joined the CAD Lab in 2020, he completed a year teaching English to elementary school students in Taiwan on a Fulbright scholarship. He is interested in how essentialist thinking develops across various social categories, specifically in minority populations.

    Picture of Yuchen Tian (graduate student) and their favorite animal, an alpaca!

    Graduate Student

    Yuchen is a graduate student in the CAD lab. She is interested in studying how children understand social status and social inequality. She also hopes to work with children from different cultures. Before joining the CAD lab, Yuchen got her Master's degree in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University.

    Picture of Emily (an undergraduate research assistant) and their favorite animal, a tree frog!

    Emily Adams

    Research Assistant

    Emily is a junior at UMass Amherst, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Anthropology. She is interested in psychological anthropology and research and is excited to further her interests while working at the CAD Lab. 

    Picture of Seham (an undergraduate research assistant) and their favorite animal, a hamster!

    Seham Albalawi

    Research Assistant


    Seham is a junior at Umass Amherst, majoring in psychology and minoring in women, gender and sexuality studies. Seham loves working with children as she worked as an ABA therapist and she plans to pursue higher education in clinical psychology. She is an advocate for mental health and hopes to remove stigma around mental health issues and to make a difference in accessibility to mental health services for marginalized communities.

    Picture of Saliha (an undergraduate research assistant) and their favorite animal, an emperor tamarin monkey!

    Saliha Bayrak

    Research Assistant

     Saliha is a junior psychology and journalism double major, and also serves as an assistant news editor at the Massachusetts Daily Collegian. She is passionate about developmental psychopathology and is particularly interested in how healthy social environments can put at-risk children and adolescents on a positive trajectory. She hopes for a future where she can combine her love for writing and psychology to make an impact and is excited to join the equally passionate researchers at the CAD lab! 

    Picture of Laya (an undergraduate research assistant) and their favorite animal, a dog!

    Laya Bharath

    Research Assistant

    Laya is a sophomore biology major at UMass and is super excited to join the CAD lab! She hopes to attend medical school after graduating and wants to become a pediatrician. She is very passionate about health equity and inequity between different groups of people and in the future aims to be able to find ways to bridge these gaps in having access to proper healthcare.

    Picture of Elizabeth (an undergraduate research assistant) and their favorite animal, a silkie chicken!

    Elizabeth Cho

    Research Assistant

    Elizabeth is a junior at UMass Amherst, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She’s excited to be part of the lab and hopes to pursue a graduate degree in counseling psychology after college. 

    Picture of Ziqi (an undergraduate research assistant) and their favorite animal, their dog!

    Ziqi Ding

    Research Assistant

    Ziqi is a sophomore at Umass Amherst, majoring in Psychology. She hopes to pursue clinical psychology in graduate school and is interested in applying psychology with other interdisciplinary fields to improve life quality for the public. She is excited to explore her passion for developmental psychology and join the CAD lab! 

    Picture of Alex (an undergraduate research assistant) and their favorite animal, a panda!

    Alex Dhima

    Research Assistant

    Alex is a sophomore studying computer science and psychology with the goal of combining the two throughout his career. He hopes to use these two interdisciplinary fields to make a positive impact in the world

    through psychological research, software engineering, artificial

    intelligence, or ideally all three.

    Picture of Kerleene (an undergraduate research assistant) and their favorite animal, a dog!

    Kerleene Dorceus

    Research Assistant

    Kerleene is a pre-med biology major from the Boston Area. She loves to

    travel and try new foods.

    Picture of Madeline (an undergraduate research assistant) and their favorite animal, a turtle!

    Madeline Kennedy

    Research Assistant

    Madeline is a junior psychology major pursuing a minor in education at UMass who is thrilled to be a part of the lab! She has been working with kids since she was 16 years old and hopes to use this opportunity to explore how they learn and grow! Madeline is endlessly fascinated by developmental science! 

    Picture of Emily (an undergraduate research assistant) and her favorite animal, a moose!

    Emily Kitsock

    Research Assistant

    Emily is a senior Psychology major with a minor in Biology at UMass Amherst and is incredibly excited to be part of the CAD Lab team! With a passion for both educational and developmental psychology, she hopes to help support children and young adults who may be struggling to navigate the educational systems and the challenges of life in general. Emily hopes to continue pursuing this passion through getting more involved in the community, and continuing her education after a few gap years.

    Picture of Seda (an undergraduate research assistant) and their favorite animal, a horse!

    Seda Korroch

    Research Assistant


    Seda is a senior psychology major at UMass and is very excited to join the CAD lab! After completing her associate’s degree in psychology, she became more curious about research and can’t wait to learn more! While unsure about if she wants to do clinical work or research, she is very passionate about the relationship between social psychology and developmental science.

    Picture of Genesis (an undergraduate research assistant) and their favorite animal, a turtle!

    Genesis Medina

    Research Assistant

    Genesis Medina is a junior at UMass Amherst, double majoring in Public Health Sciences and Psychology. She is interested in clinical child psychology and also hopes to work with communities of marginalized groups in public health. 

    Picture of Dagney (an undergraduate research assistant) and their favorite animal, a llama!

    Dagney Overbey

    Research Assistant

    Dagney is a junior psychology major at UMass and is excited to begin working with the CAD lab. She plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology after taking a couple of gap years. Her goal is to one-day conduct research that can be used to promote equality. She is passionate about the connections this lab draws between social and developmental psychology.

    Picture of Henry (an undergraduate research assistant) and their favorite animal, a marmoset!

    Henry Pareto

    Research Assistant

    Henry is a Senior at UMass Amherst, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Jazz (Vocal). His long term goal is to pursue a career as a researcher in Psychology. Through his research he hopes to help promote peace, justice, and equality, and combat violence, hatred, and prejudice. He is eager to take his first step on this journey in joining the CAD lab!

    Picture of Prachi (an undergraduate research assistant) and their favorite animal, a golden retriever!

    Prachi Patel

    Research Assistant

    Prachi is a sophomore psychology major on the neuroscience track, who is so excited to join the CAD lab! She is on the pre-dental track, and  passionate about working with people with disabilities, especially children. She hopes to understand more about the disparities that exist in healthcare for marginalized groups, and make oral care accessible to all individuals with disabilities.  

    Picture of Jenna (an undergraduate research assistant) and their favorite animal, a panda!

    Jenna Rubin

    Research Assistant

    Jenna is a Senior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Political Science. She is planning on attending law school in the fall, and her ultimate goal is to be an advocate and pursue justice for children suffering from physical and/or mental abuse. 

    Picture of Kaitlyn (an undergraduate research assistant) and their favorite animal, a sea otter!

    Kaitlyn Rybicki

    Research Assistant

    Kaitlyn Rybicki is a Freshman at UMass studying Psychology on the Neuroscience track. She is interested in research and her goal is to pursue a career as a professor teaching psychology. She is especially interested in developmental psychology and studying what affects the way people think and perceive the world around them.  

    Picture of Naomi (an undergraduate research assistant) and their favorite animal, a Scottish Highland cow!

    Naomi Small

    Research Assistant

    Naomi is a sophomore majoring in psychology and plans on using what she learns to conduct research that reveals social impacts and expectations on people of all backgrounds. She hopes to eventually create positive, lasting change in individuals through one-on-one counseling using all that she has discovered through research and personal experience. 

    Picture of Oluchi (an undergraduate research assistant) and their favorite animal, a flamingo!

    Oluchi Ukairo

    Research Assistant

    Oluchi is a sophomore Biology and Psychology major hoping to one day be a pediatrician! She hopes to one day open her own practice to serve underserved communities and continue work to bridge the gap in health disparities. 

    Picture of Riley (an undergraduate research assistant) and their favorite animal, a frog!

    Riley Zimmerman

    Research Assistant

    Riley is a sophomore with a major in Community Education and Social Change. They are in the process of applying to the Early Childhood Education program. After graduating, they hope to pursue a career as an elementary school educator. They plan to use the knowledge they gain working in the CAD Lab to help  become the best educator they can be!

  • Publications




    *Alto, A. & Mandalaywala, T.M. (in press). Boys and girls, men and women: Do children take stimulus age into account when
    expressing gender stereotypes?
     Developmental Psychology. 


    Mandalaywala, T.M. (2022). Do nonhuman animals reason about prestige-based status? Social and Personality Psychology Compass. 


    Marshall, J.,Gollwitzer, A., Mermin-Bunnell, N., & Mandalaywala, T. M. (2022).The development of children’s statusbeliefs about race in rural Uganda. Developmental Science.


    Mandalaywala, T.M., Gonzalez, G. & Tropp, L.R. (2021). Early perceptions of COVID-19 intensity and anti-Asian prejudice among White Americans. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations. 


    Mandalaywala, T. M., Benitez, J., Sagar, K., & Rhodes, M. (2021). Why do children show racial biases in their resource allocation decisions? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 


    Power, S.A., Mandalaywala, T.M., & Kay, A.C. (2021). A multi-method investigation of perceptions of (un)just systems: Tests of rationalization in the context of Irish austerity measures. Peace & Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology 


    Higham, J.P., Kimock, C.M., Mandalaywala, T.M., Heistermann, M., Cascio, J., Petersdorf, M., Winters, S., Allen, W.L., & Dubuc, C. (2021). Female ornamentation: Is red skin coloration attractive to males and related to condition in female rhesus macaques? Behavioral Ecology.


    Mandalaywala, T. M. (2020). Does essentialism lead to racial prejudice?: It’s not so black and white. Advances in Child Development and Behavior. 


    Mandalaywala, T.M., Tai, C., & Rhodes, M. (2020). Children's use of race and gender as cues to social status. PLoS ONE, 15(6): e0234398.


    Lee, S.D., Mandalaywala, T.M., Dubuc, C., Widdig, A., & Higham, J.P. (2020). Higher early life mortality associated with lower infant body mass in a free-ranging primate. Journal of Animal Ecology. 


    Mandalaywala T.M. (2019) Emergence of Social Reasoning About Hierarchies. In: Shackelford T., Weekes-Shackelford V. (eds) Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Springer, Cham


    Mandalaywala, T.M., Ranger-Murdock, G., Amodio, D.M., & Rhodes, M. (2019). The nature and consequences of essentialist beliefs about race in early childhood. Child Development.


    Madrid, J. E., Mandalaywala, T.M., Coyne, S.P., Garner, J.P., Barr, C.S., Maestripieri, D., & Parker, K.J. (2018). Adaptive developmental plasticity in rhesus macaques: 5-HTTLPR interacts with early maternal care to affect juvenile social behavior. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 


    Mandalaywala, T.M., Petrullo, L.A., Parker, K.J., Maestripieri, D. & Higham, J.P. (2017). Vigilance for threat accounts for inter-individual variation in physiological responses to adversity in rhesus macaques: A Cognition x Environment approach. Developmental Psychobiology. DOI:10.1002/dev.21572


    Mandalaywala, T.M., Amodio, D.M. & Rhodes, M. (2017). Essentialism promotes racial prejudice by increasing endorsement of social hierarchies. Social Psychological and Personality Science. DOI:10.1177/1948550617707020


    Rhodes, M. & Mandalaywala, T.M. (2017). The development and developmental consequences of social essentialism. Invited review for WIREs Cognitive Science, e1437. doi:10.1002/wcs.1437


    Petrullo, L.A., Mandalaywala, T.M., Parker, K.J., Maestripieri, D., & Higham, J.P. (2016). Effects of early life experience on cortisol/salivary alpha-amylase asymmetry in free-ranging juvenile rhesus monkeys. Hormones and Behavior. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2016.05.004.


    Mandalaywala, T.M. & Rhodes, M. (2016). Racial essentialism is associated with prejudice towards Blacks in 5- and 6-year old White children. Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.


    Georgiev, A.V., Emery Thompson, M., Mandalaywala, T.M., & Maestripieri, D. (2015). Oxidative stress as an indicator of the costs of reproduction among free-ranging rhesus macaques. Journal of Experimental Biology, 218: 1981-1985.


    Mandalaywala, T. M., Fleener, C. E., & Maestripieri, D. (2015). Intelligence in nonhuman primates. In S. Goldstein & J. Naglieri (Eds.), Handbook of Intelligence: Evolutionary Theory, Historical Perspective, and Current Concepts (27-46). New York: Springer Books.


    Mandalaywala, T.M., Higham, J.P., Heistermann, M., Parker, K.J., & Maestripieri, D. (2014). Physiological and behavioural stress responses to weaning conflict in free-ranging primate infants. Animal Behaviour, 97: 241-247.


    Mandalaywala, T.M., Parker, K.J., & Maestripieri, D (2014). Early experience affects the strength of vigilance for threat in rhesus monkey infants. Psychological Science, 25: 1893-1902.


    Maclean, E.L., Mandalaywala, T.M., & Brannon, E.M. (2012). Variance-sensitive choice in lemurs: constancy trumps quantity. Animal Cognition, 15: 15-25.


    Mandalaywala, T.M., Higham, J.P., Heistermann, M. & Maestripieri, D. (2011). Infant bystanders modulate the influence of ovarian hormones on female socio-sexual behavior in free-ranging rhesus macaques. Behaviour, 148: 1137-1155.


    Higham, J.P., Barr, C.S., Hoffman, C.L., Mandalaywala, T.M., Parker, K.J., & Maestripieri, D. (2011). Mu-opiod receptor (OPRM1) variation, oxytocin levels and maternal attachment in free-ranging rhesus macaques. Behavioral Neuroscience, 152: 131-136.

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    We'd love to hear from you.

    301H Tobin Hall
    University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA 01003
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