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.
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.
Nai is a senior 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!
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.
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.
Ben is a senior at Lenox Memorial High School, who plans to pursue psychology and public policy in college. He is passionate about finding a deeper understanding of how humans perceive and interact with each other and applying that research to real-world problem-solving.
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 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.
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!
Jenna Rubin is a senior 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!
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.
Mandalaywala, T.M., Gonzalez, G. & Tropp, L.R. (in press). 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.