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Sarah Elizabeth Gaither

Nicholas J. and Theresa M. Leonardy Associate Professor
Psychology & Neuroscience
417 Chapel Hill Dr, Box 90086, Durham, NC 27708
417 Chapel Drive, 324 Reuben-Cooke Building, Durham, NC 27708

Research Interests


Dr. Gaither's research focuses broadly on how a person’s social identities and experiences across the lifespan motivate their social perceptions and behaviors in diverse settings. More specifically, she studies how contact with diverse others shapes social interactions, how having multiple social identities and malleable social identities affects different types of behavior and categorizations of others, and what contexts shape the development of social perceptions and biases from childhood through adulthood.

Selected Grants


Multiple Identity Mindsets and Intergroup Interactions: A Dual Pathway Model

ResearchPrincipal Investigator · Awarded by National Science Foundation · 2022 - 2027

REU Site: Lifespan Approaches to Diverse Psychological Science

Inst. Training Prgm or CMECo-Principal Investigator · Awarded by National Science Foundation · 2020 - 2023

Collaborative Research: Replicating Prejudice and Stereotyping Findings in Developmental Psychology

ResearchPrincipal Investigator · Awarded by National Science Foundation · 2017 - 2021

Cross-Group Roommate Experiences on Increasingly Diverse Campuses

ResearchPrincipal Investigator · Awarded by Spencer Foundation · 2018 - 2019

Unacknowledged Identities and Health Outcomes for Biracial and Bicultural Individuals

ResearchPrincipal Investigator · Awarded by Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey · 2017 - 2018

Fellowships, Gifts, and Supported Research


Writing and ReseArch Productive (WRAP) Group for Black Faculty · 2019 PI · Office of Faculty Advancement This grant supports a weekly writing session for Black faculty at Duke in addition to two writing retreats per year as a way to enhance their scholarship and build community.
Social, Cognitive, and Behavioral Responses to Identity Threat · 2018 PI · Charles Lafitte Foundation Program in Psychological Research at Duke University This grant helped fund graduate and undergraduate research centering on the role that different forms of identity threat play in shaping our behavioral and cognitive responses.
Social identity and mental health: Minimizing barriers to positive well-being in college settings · 2019 PI · Charles Lafitte Foundation Program in Psychological Research at Duke University This grant is funding efforts spent on developing and testing a new mental health peer coaches app.
Big Data and Social Interactions · 2019 Intellectual Community Planning Grant, Duke Interdisciplinary Studies This group will facilitate interactions among faculty who want to learn how technological advancements and big data can improve our understanding of the ways in which social norms and interactions affect individuals’ and firms’ behavior.
Racial and Social Equity in Local Context Grant: Gesture: A Cultural Intervention for Learning Outcomes · 2023 PI · Duke Office of Provost

External Relationships


  • Arizona State University
  • Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Associate Editor
  • Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Associate Editor
  • New York University
  • St. Louis University
  • Arizona State University
  • Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Associate Editor
  • Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Associate Editor
  • New York University
  • St. Louis University
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Washington University in St. Louis

This faculty member (or a member of their immediate family) has reported outside activities with the companies, institutions, or organizations listed above. This information is available to institutional leadership and, when appropriate, management plans are in place to address potential conflicts of interest.