Sarah Elizabeth Gaither

Sarah Elizabeth Gaither

Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Tufts University 2014

  • M.S., Tufts University 2009

  • B.A., University of California at Berkeley 2007


Humans are fundamentally social beings, and their interactions represent a core aspect of human nature. My research focuses on how individuals’ social identities and experiences across the lifespan motivate their social perceptions and behaviors particularly in diverse settings.

More specifically I am interested in three main questions:
1) how intergroup contact shapes interracial interaction outcomes for both racial majority and racial minority individuals
2) how having multiple racial or social identities more broadly affects various types of behavior including complex thinking, social behavior, and identity malleability
3) what contexts in particular may influence how people perceive or socially categorize each other across group boundaries

Therefore, the overall goal of my research program is to investigate the attitudinal and behavioral effects stemming from exposure to racial and gender diversity as a means to pinpoint pathways that one can utilize to foster more positive group relations for both adult and child populations. By exploring the developmental origins of social identity and intergroup perceptions we can pinpoint some of the antecedents that predict adult behavior in diverse settings.


biracial and social identities, interracial interactions, racial categorizations, social development

Gomez, EM, Young, DM, Preston, AG, Wilton, LS, Gaither, SE, and Kaiser, CR. "Loss and loyalty: Change in political and gender identity among Clinton supporters after the 2016 U.S. presidential election." Self and Identity (October 23, 2017): 1-23. Full Text

Gaither, SE, Apfelbaum, EP, Birnbaum, HJ, Babbitt, LG, and Sommers, SR. "Mere Membership in Racially Diverse Groups Reduces Conformity." Social Psychological and Personality Science (May 16, 2017): 194855061770801-194855061770801. Full Text

Gaither, SE, Remedios, JD, Schultz, JR, Maddox, KB, and Sommers, SR. "Examining the Effects of I-Sharing for Future White-Black Interactions." Social Psychology 47.3 (May 2016): 125-135. Full Text

Gaither, SE, Pauker, K, Slepian, ML, and Sommers, SR. "Social Belonging Motivates Categorization of Racially Ambiguous Faces." Social Cognition 34.2 (April 2016): 97-118. Full Text

Gaither, SE, Remedios, JD, Schultz, JR, and Sommers, SR. "Priming White identity elicits stereotype boost for biracial Black-White individuals." Group Processes & Intergroup Relations 18.6 (November 2015): 778-787. Full Text

Gaither, SE, Remedios, JD, Sanchez, DT, and Sommers, SR. "Thinking Outside the Box." Social Psychological and Personality Science 6.5 (July 2015): 596-603. Full Text

Howell, JL, Gaither, SE, and Ratliff, KA. "Caught in the Middle." Social Psychological and Personality Science 6.4 (May 2015): 373-381. Full Text

Gaither, SE. "“Mixed” Results." Current Directions in Psychological Science 24.2 (April 2015): 114-119. Full Text

Gaither, SE, Cohen-Goldberg, AM, Gidney, CL, Maddox, KB, Gidney, CL, and Gidney, CL. "Sounding Black or White: priming identity and biracial speech." Frontiers in psychology 6 (January 2015): 457-. Full Text


Gaither, SE, and Dukes, KN. "Young, black, and endangered: Examining the deaths of trayvon martin, michael brown, and tamir rice through a psychological lens." Stereotypes and Stereotyping: Misperceptions, Perspectives and Role of Social Media. January 1, 2016. 83-98.

Selected Grants

Developmental Social Cognition Replication awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2020

Cross-Group Roommate Experiences on Increasingly Diverse Campuses awarded by Spencer Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2018 to 2019

Unacknowledged Identities and Health Outcomes for Biracial and Bicultural Individuals awarded by Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2018