NSF REU Site: Comparative and Developmental Origins of Social Cognition

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Program Information for Summer 2022

NOTE: This program unfortunately will not be offered in Summer 2023


The REU program is supported by an award from the U.S. National Science Foundation (Award #1659085) to Yale University as part of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program. The REU program has both scientific and societal benefits integrating research and education. The broad goal of the Comparative and Developmental Origins of Social Cognition REU Site is to provide students from under-represented backgrounds with joint training in developmental and comparative psychology research. Students will gain experience investigating the origins of human social cognition from two different but related perspectives: developmental studies testing human children’s social understanding and comparative studies examining social cognition in domesticated dogs. The REU is coordinated by Psychology professors Dr. Laurie Santos and Dr. Yarrow Dunham.

A child participating in a fun game at the SCD Lab!  

REU students will have a rare opportunity to participate in all aspects of the research process: research design, subject recruitment, stimulus generation, data collection, data entry, coding, and statistical analysis. In addition, students will have the opportunity to interact as colleagues: participating in weekly lab meetings, reading current literature, contributing to theoretical discussions regarding the comparative and developmental origins of social cognition, and attending a professional development series focusing on topics such as applying to graduate school, getting the most out of your undergraduate career, etc. Students will meet weekly with a graduate student mentor, and the PI and co-PI will attend bi-monthly social events. Please note that students must commit to the full 40 hrs/week 10 week program, and must commit to working a number of weekends.

The REU Fellowship includes a $500/week stipend for housing and living expenses and can cover limited travel costs. Students will be expected to find their own housing.

Professional Training

Our interns will also have the opportunity to take part in professional development training. Each intern will be assigned a graduate student mentor that they will meet with biweekly. In addition, interns will attend a weekly professional development workshop, in which they will have the opportunity to learn about applying to graduate school and life in academia. Past workshop topics have included “Getting the most out of undergrad,” “What’s grad school really like?” and “Workshopping personal statements.”

To be eligible for the Yale REU program, you must:
  • be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • be a full-time undergraduate student in a baccalaureate or associate degree program, and be returning to your institution after the program
  • have experience or be comfortable working around dogs

A primary objective of this REU site is to include students who have fewer research opportunities, including those attending non-Research I universities and students from underrepresented groups and first-generation college students. In this way, this REU proposal aims to increase the odds that its undergraduates will be competitive in applying to graduate school in psychology or a related field. In addition, this REU site will be one of the few locations in the world where students can to study one topic (social cognition) from many perspectives including a comparative approach, a developmental approach, and an adult social psychological approach.


All prospective interns will need to provide the following materials:

  1. An application form.
  2. One letter of recommendation (have recommender email to reu.application@gmail.com
  3. A resume/CV (email to reu.application@gmail.com)

Applications are open to all students that meet the eligibility requirements listed above. An emphasis will be placed on admitting students who may not otherwise have research opportunities available to them at their undergraduate institution. The Yale REU Program especially welcomes applications from community college students, women, and students from populations underrepresented in the research sciences.


The current start and end dates are June 1, 2022 and August 5, 2022, respectively. Interns are expected to arrive for the first day and stay through the last day. Applications are due by February 28 and we will begin reviewing them starting March 1. 


For more information, contact Emily Richards (Center Manager). For other information specific to the Social Cognitive Development Lab or human research, please contact Mackenzie Briscoe.