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

Loyd, A. B., and S. E. Gaither. “Racial/ethnic socialization for White youth: What we know and future directions.” Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, vol. 59, Nov. 2018, pp. 54–64. Scopus, doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2018.05.004. Full Text

Chen, Eva E., et al. “Learning and Socializing Preferences in Hong Kong Chinese Children.Child Development, vol. 89, no. 6, Nov. 2018, pp. 2109–17. Epmc, doi:10.1111/cdev.13083. Full Text Open Access Copy

Chen, J. M., et al. “Black + White = Not White: A minority bias in categorizations of Black-White multiracials.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 78, Sept. 2018, pp. 43–54. Scopus, doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2018.05.002. Full Text

Albuja, Analia F., et al. “Identity Denied: Comparing American or White Identity Denial and Psychological Health Outcomes Among Bicultural and Biracial People.Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, Aug. 2018, p. 146167218788553. Epmc, doi:10.1177/0146167218788553. Full Text

Gaither, S. E. “The multiplicity of belonging: Pushing identity research beyond binary thinking.” Self and Identity, vol. 17, no. 4, July 2018, pp. 443–54. Scopus, doi:10.1080/15298868.2017.1412343. Full Text

Albuja, A. F., et al. “Fluid racial presentation: Perceptions of contextual “passing” among biracial people.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 77, July 2018, pp. 132–42. Scopus, doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2018.04.010. Full Text

Pauker, K., et al. “A review of multiracial malleability: Identity, categorization, and shifting racial attitudes.” Social and Personality Psychology Compass, vol. 12, no. 6, June 2018. Scopus, doi:10.1111/spc3.12392. Full Text

Gaither, S. E., et al. “Mere Membership in Racially Diverse Groups Reduces Conformity.” Social Psychological and Personality Science, vol. 9, no. 4, May 2018, pp. 402–10. Scopus, doi:10.1177/1948550617708013. Full Text

Gaither, S. E., et al. “Resolving racial ambiguity in social interactions.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 76, May 2018, pp. 259–69. Scopus, doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2018.03.003. Full Text

Babbitt, L. G., et al. “The role of gender in racial meta-stereotypes and stereotypes.” Social Cognition, vol. 36, no. 5, Jan. 2018, pp. 589–601.


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)