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

Gaither, SE, Chen, JM, Pauker, K, and Sommers, SR. "At face value: Psychological outcomes differ for real vs. computer-generated multiracial faces." The Journal of Social Psychology (October 30, 2018): 1-19. Full Text

Chen, JM, Pauker, K, Gaither, SE, Hamilton, DL, and Sherman, JW. "Black + White = Not White: A minority bias in categorizations of Black-White multiracials." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 78 (September 2018): 43-54. Full Text

Albuja, AF, Sanchez, DT, and Gaither, SE. "Identity Denied: Comparing American or White Identity Denial and Psychological Health Outcomes Among Bicultural and Biracial People." Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin (August 7, 2018): 146167218788553-null. Full Text

Gaither, SE. "The multiplicity of belonging: Pushing identity research beyond binary thinking." Self and Identity 17.4 (July 4, 2018): 443-454. Full Text

Albuja, AF, Sanchez, DT, and Gaither, SE. "Fluid racial presentation: Perceptions of contextual “passing” among biracial people." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 77 (July 2018): 132-142. Full Text

Gaither, SE, Toosi, NR, Babbitt, LG, and Sommers, SR. "Exposure to Biracial Faces Reduces Colorblindness." Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin (June 2018): 146167218778012-null. Full Text

Pauker, K, Meyers, C, Sanchez, DT, Gaither, SE, and Young, DM. "A review of multiracial malleability: Identity, categorization, and shifting racial attitudes." Social and Personality Psychology Compass 12.6 (June 2018): e12392-e12392. Full Text

Loyd, AB, and Gaither, SE. "Racial/ethnic socialization for White youth: What we know and future directions." Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology (June 2018). 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 9.4 (May 2018): 402-410. Full Text

Gaither, SE, Babbitt, LG, and Sommers, SR. "Resolving racial ambiguity in social interactions." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 76 (May 2018): 259-269. 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