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.
Alix graduated from Northeastern University with a B.S. in Psychology in December 2017. She's interested in how social categorization processes are permeable to ideological and group-based motivations, focusing on minoritized individuals. In addition to her work with the CAD Lab, Alix coordinates database recruitment for the Developmental Science Initiative.
Edye is a junior psychology major at UMass with an interest in issues of gender identity, attachment/adoption, and anxiety in young children. She has always loved working with kids and hopes to pursue a research career in developmental psychology in order to positively impact the lives of children and families.
Amber is a Neuroscience and Legal Studies major at UMass Amherst (class of 2022). She is a Vietnamese international student with a passion for working with children and a curiosity for the wonders of psychology
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!
Emmy is a sophomore psychology major on the neuroscience track looking forward to exploring all the different concentrations that psychology has to offer before going into the research field after obtaining her PhD. Having much experience with children, she believes it will be fun to look further into their minds, as she knows how smart and how critical they can be.
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.