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.
Participate in Research
We're happy to introduce our new virtual research lab! Parents and kids can now contribute to science by playing our fun, gamified studies from the comfort of home. All you need is a computer and a webcam to participate, and you can do so at any time.
We're currently running our Thinking About People study for children ages 3-10. The study takes about 20 minutes and you'll receive $3 for participating (via PayPal or Amazon gift card).
Click here if you'd like to learn more about and participate in Thinking About People! You'll be taken to a new site where you'll learn how to participate using your webcam. Our games only work in certain web browsers (Chrome and Firefox) so make sure you're using one of those.
Have questions? Running into any issues? Never fear! Contact us here. We'll help answer your questions so you and your child can start doing science with us!
Recent coverage of the people and the work in the CAD Lab
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.
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.
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
Assistant Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Gorana graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Psychology and is a first year graduate student in the CAD lab. She's interested in children's conceptualization of racial categories, the development of racial identity, and racial privileges.
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.
Jess is from Grafton, Massachusetts and she is a (rising) sophomore psychology major at UMass Amherst. She hopes to pursue clinical and counseling psychology specifically with children and adolescents after she graduates, and she believes that CAD lab is a wonderful opportunity and experience to help her gain more knowledge in the field that she loves!
Andrew is from New York City and is a rising sophomore student majoring in psychology and getting a minor in Spanish. He plans to become an industrial-organizational psychologist in order to promote cultural inclusivity.
Jenna Rubin is a sophomore psychology major at UMass with an interest in psychopathology and early social cognition. She hopes to pursue clinical psychology after graduating, particularly with children and adolescents. She is excited to further explore her passion for developmental psychology in the CAD Lab!
Henry is a Junior 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!
Nai is a junior at UMass and is majoring in Psychology, minoring in art history, and working towards a social work and welfare certificate. She wants to pursue clinical psychology and eventually open up a community center that offers support for lower-income families and individuals. She looks forward to joining the CAD lab team!
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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.