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.
Three cheers for the CAD Lab!
2021- 2022 was an amazing year for the CAD Lab. Our honors thesis students presented their research projects at the PBS poster session, our graduate students shared their science at the 2022 Cognitive Development Society meeting, and Gorana Gonzalez was awarded the UMass Commitment to Diversity Award! Let's hear it for all of the awesome things these awesome students accomplished!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Kerleene is a pre-med biology major from the Boston Area. She loves to
travel and try new foods.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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.
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