Dr. Gaither’s research focuses on how individuals’ social identities and experiences across the lifespan motivate their social perceptions and behaviors, particularly in diverse settings.
More specifically she is 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
The overall goal of her 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.