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 - 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

Stanaland, Adam, and Sarah Gaither. “"Be a Man": The Role of Social Pressure in Eliciting Men's Aggressive Cognition.Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, Jan. 2021, p. 146167220984298. Epmc, doi:10.1177/0146167220984298. Full Text

Sanchez, D. T., et al. “How Policies Can Address Multiracial Stigma.” Policy Insights From the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol. 7, no. 2, Oct. 2020, pp. 115–22. Scopus, doi:10.1177/2372732220943906. Full Text

Young, Danielle M., et al. “A Meta-Analytic Review of Hypodescent Patterns in Categorizing Multiracial and Racially Ambiguous Targets.Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, Aug. 2020, p. 146167220941321. Epmc, doi:10.1177/0146167220941321. Full Text

Straka, B. C., et al. ““Mixed” Drinking Motivations: A Comparison of Majority, Multiracial, and Minority College Students.” Social Psychological and Personality Science, vol. 11, no. 5, July 2020, pp. 676–87. Scopus, doi:10.1177/1948550619883294. Full Text

Meyers, Chanel, et al. “Experiences with microaggressions and discrimination in racially diverse and homogeneously white contexts.Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, vol. 26, no. 2, Apr. 2020, pp. 250–59. Epmc, doi:10.1037/cdp0000293. Full Text

Skinner, Allison L., et al. “Not Quite Monoracial: Biracial Stereotypes Explored.Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 46, no. 3, Mar. 2020, pp. 377–92. Epmc, doi:10.1177/0146167219858344. Full Text

Gaither, Sarah E., et al. “Thinking about multiple identities boosts children's flexible thinking.Developmental Science, vol. 23, no. 1, Jan. 2020, p. e0012871. Epmc, doi:10.1111/desc.12871. Full Text Open Access Copy

Gaither, S. E., et al. “Perceptions and experiences of (people with) unconventional identities.” Self and Identity, Jan. 2020. Scopus, doi:10.1080/15298868.2020.1711802. Full Text

Gaither, Sarah E., et al. “Race, Gender, and the Development of Cross-Race Egalitarianism.Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 11, Jan. 2020, p. 1525. Epmc, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01525. Full Text


Gaither, S. E., and K. N. Dukes. “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, 2016, pp. 83–98.

Chen, Chun-Man, et al. “Exploring Taiwanese Young Children's Perception and Categorization of Racially Ambiguous Faces.” I Perception, vol. 8, SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2017, pp. 45–45.

Selected Grants

REU Site: Lifespan Approaches to Diverse Psychological Science awarded by National Science Foundation (Co-Principal Investigator). 2020 to 2023

Collaborative Research: Replicating Prejudice and Stereotyping Findings in Developmental Psychology awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2021

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

Fellowships, Supported Research, & Other Grants

Writing and ReseArch Productive (WRAP) Group for Black Faculty awarded by Office of Faculty Advancement (2019)

Social identity and mental health: Minimizing barriers to positive well-being in college settings awarded by Charles Lafitte Foundation Program in Psychological Research at Duke University (2019)

Big Data and Social Interactions awarded by Intellectual Community Planning Grant, Duke Interdisciplinary Studies (2019)

Social, Cognitive, and Behavioral Responses to Identity Threat awarded by Charles Lafitte Foundation Program in Psychological Research at Duke University (2018)