Department of Psychology
Medford, MA 02155
Associate Professor of Psychology
Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2002
Professor Sommers is an experimental social
psychologist interested in issues related to stereotyping, prejudice, and group
diversity. His research focuses on two general (and often overlapping) topics:
1) race and social perception, judgment, and interaction; 2) the intersection of
psychology and law. In other words, he is interested in how race impacts the
way people see and interact with the world in a wide range of social settings.
In recognition of this work, in 2008 he received the Saleem Shah Award for Early
Career Excellence from the American Psychology-Law Society. For more details
regarding publications, ongoing projects, and media coverage of his research,
see his lab website.
At Tufts, Professor Sommers teaches courses in Introduction to Psychology (PSY
1), Social Psychology (PSY 13), Experimental Psychology (PSY 32), and
upper-level seminars in social psychology and psychology and law. In 2007 he
won the Lerman-Neubauer Prize for Outstanding Teaching and Advising at Tufts; in
2009 he was named Gerald R. Gill Professor of the Year by the Student Senate.
His first book, based in large part on his popular PSY 13 course, comes out in
December 2011 and is titled Situations
Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World.
Professor Sommers received his B.A. from Williams College in 1997 and his Ph.D.
from the University of Michigan in 2002. He arrived at Tufts in the Fall of
2003 and currently lives in Lexington with his wife and two daughters. As
demonstrated by his office decor, he has not succumbed to normative social
influence while in Boston, as he continues to be an avid Yankees fan. In his
free time he hits lead-off for the vaunted Psychology Department softball team,
blogs about the science of everyday behavior for
and Huffington Post,
and exerts far more effort than he should
digitizing Seinfeld clips for
The Sommers Lab is always looking for motivated, responsible, and creative
students to assist with research projects. Undergraduates in his lab assist
with a wide range of duties, including library research, study design,
participant recruitment, data collection, data coding/entry, and data analysis.
Contact him directly for more information about earning course credit through a
research assistant position.
* = Tufts Graduate Student
# = Tufts Undergraduate Student
- *Toosi, N. R., *Babbitt, L. G., Ambady, N., & Sommers, S. R. (in
press). Dyadic interracial interactions: A meta-analysis.
- *Babbitt, L. G., & Sommers, S. R. (2011). Framing matters:
Contextual influences on interracial interaction. Personality and
Social Psychology Bulletin, 37,
- Norton, M. I., & Sommers, S. R. (2011). Whites see racism
as a zero-sum game that they are now losing. Perspectives in
Psychological Science, 6, 215-218.
- *Apfelbaum, E. P., *Pauker, K., Sommers, S. R., & Ambady, N. (2010).
In blind pursuit of racial equality? Psychological Science, 21,
- Sommers, S. R., & *Babbitt, L. G. (2010). On the perils of
misplaced assumptions: Appreciating the need for diversity science.
Psychological Inquiry, 21, 164-167.
- *Apfelbaum, E. P., & Sommers, S. R. (2009).
Liberating effects of losing control: When regulatory strategies turn maladaptive.
Psychological Science, 20, 139-143.
- *Apfelbaum, E. P., *Pauker, K., Ambady, N., Sommers, S. R., & Norton, M. I. (2008).
Learning (not) to talk about race: When older children underperform on social categorization.
Developmental Psychology, 44, 1513-1518.
- *Apfelbaum, E. P., Sommers, S. R., & Norton, M. I. (2008).
Seeing race and
seeming racist? Evaluating strategic colorblindness in social interaction.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 918-932.
- Sommers, S. R. (2008). Determinants and consequences of jury racial diversity:
Empirical findings, implications, and directions for future research. Social
Issues and Policy Review, 2, 65-102.
- Sommers, S. R., & Norton, M. I. (2008).
Race and jury selection: Psychological perspectives on the peremptory challenge debate.
American Psychologist, 63, 527-539.
- Sommers, S. R., #Warp, L. S., & #Mahoney, C. C. (2008).
Cognitive effects of racial diversity: White individuals'
information processing in heterogeneous groups. Journal of
Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 1129-1136.