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

Dukes, K. N., and S. E. Gaither. “Black Racial Stereotypes and Victim Blaming: Implications for Media Coverage and Criminal Proceedings in Cases of Police Violence against Racial and Ethnic Minorities.” Journal of Social Issues, vol. 73, no. 4, Dec. 2017, pp. 789–807. Scopus, doi:10.1111/josi.12248. Full Text

Gaither, S. E., et al. “Examining the effects of I-sharing for future white-black interactions.” Social Psychology, vol. 47, no. 3, May 2016, pp. 125–35. Scopus, doi:10.1027/1864-9335/a000264. Full Text

Gaither, S. E., et al. “Social belonging motivates categorization of racially ambiguous faces.” Social Cognition, vol. 34, no. 2, Apr. 2016, pp. 97–118. Scopus, doi:10.1521/soco.2016.34.2.97. Full Text

Gaither, S. E. ““Mixed” Results: Multiracial Research and Identity Explorations.” Current Directions in Psychological Science, vol. 24, no. 2, Apr. 2015, pp. 114–19. Scopus, doi:10.1177/0963721414558115. Full Text

Gaither, S. E., et al. “Priming White identity elicits stereotype boost for biracial Black-White individuals.” Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, vol. 18, no. 6, Jan. 2015, pp. 778–87. Scopus, doi:10.1177/1368430215570504. Full Text

Gaither, S. E., et al. “Thinking Outside the Box: Multiple Identity Mind-Sets Affect Creative Problem Solving.” Social Psychological and Personality Science, vol. 6, no. 5, Jan. 2015, pp. 596–603. Scopus, doi:10.1177/1948550614568866. Full Text

Howell, J. L., et al. “Caught in the Middle: Defensive Responses to IAT Feedback Among Whites, Blacks, and Biracial Black/Whites.” Social Psychological and Personality Science, vol. 6, no. 4, Jan. 2015, pp. 373–81. Scopus, doi:10.1177/1948550614561127. Full Text

Gaither, Sarah E., et al. “Sounding Black or White: priming identity and biracial speech.Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 6, Jan. 2015, p. 457. Epmc, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00457. Full Text

Gaither, Sarah E., et al. “Monoracial and biracial children: effects of racial identity saliency on social learning and social preferences.Child Development, vol. 85, no. 6, Nov. 2014, pp. 2299–316. Epmc, doi:10.1111/cdev.12266. Full Text

Chen, Jacqueline M., et al. “Motivation to control prejudice predicts categorization of multiracials.Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 40, no. 5, May 2014, pp. 590–603. Epmc, doi:10.1177/0146167213520457. Full Text


Fellowships, Supported Research, & Other Grants

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)

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

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