I study how our social contexts differentially shape groups' beliefs about others' beliefs (i.e., meta-beliefs) in ways that reinforce racism.

Education & Certifications

  • BA, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, Psychology and Communicology (2016)
  • AA, Honolulu Community College, Liberal Arts (2013)

Personal Interests

Spearfishing, Magic: The Gathering, and Boxing

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Racism involves a complex interplay between social contexts and individual thoughts, feelings, and actions. My research highlights how social contexts disproportionately affect marginalized groups’ meta-beliefs (i.e., beliefs about others’ beliefs), and how those meta-beliefs subsequently influence marginalized group members (but not advantaged group members) to disengage with those contexts. Moreover, I highlight how changes to social contexts can change how marginalized groups think about those contexts, often leading to greater racial equity. My research integrates the social psychological literature in social identity threat and systemic racism, employs diverse methods (e.g., surveys, field experiments, archival analyses, natural language processing) and includes participants from diverse backgrounds to uncover how changes to social contexts can reduce racial inequity across a variety of domains (e.g., scientific publications, interracial relationships, workplace settings, healthcare).


  • Meta-beliefs in the Context of Scientific Publications

    How does one decide which journals to submit their papers to? How do meta-beliefs about a journal’s research values shape these decisions? And what features of the journal play a role in shaping these meta-beliefs? One feature of a journal that might contribute to one’s decision is who is on the journal editorial board. Recent research suggests that in mainstream psychological science, the higher the proportion of White editorial board members, the lower the proportion of articles that focus on race. In my research, I reveal how this lower proportion is predicted by the interplay of editorial board diversity and the meta-beliefs of scholars for whom race is a central aspect of their research (i.e., race scholars). That is, I find that non-diverse editorial boards (i.e., majority White editors) signal to race scholars (but not non-race scholars) that the journal will not evaluate their research fairly and that they should submit their research elsewhere for publication.


    United States

  • Meta-beliefs in the Context of U.S. Interracial Relationships

    How does one decide on who to date? How do beliefs about others’ racial preferences impact these decisions? And how might these meta-beliefs impact the composition of U.S. interracial relationships? In the U.S., the two most common interracial couples involve White men and Asian women, and White women and Asian men. Previous research has argued that White Americans’ preferences for femininity (stereotyped with Asian women) and masculinity (stereotyped with Black men) drive the most common U.S. interracial relationship patterns. In this line of work, I find that a more complete understanding of U.S. interracial relationships cannot be achieved without a) taking the perspectives of Americans of color, and b) understanding how Americans of color think about others’ racial preferences (i.e., meta-beliefs).


    United States

2021-22 Courses

All Publications

  • Romantic racism: How racial preferences (and beliefs about racial preferences) reinforce hierarchy in U.S. interracial relationships. Cultural diversity & ethnic minority psychology Auelua-Toomey, S. L., Roberts, S. O. 2023


    OBJECTIVES: In the United States, the two most common interracial marriages are between Asian women and White men, and between Black men and White women. Previous research proposed that the reason for these pairings stems from White Americans' racial preferences, such that White men prefer Asian women over Black women (i.e., the group stereotyped as more feminine), whereas White women prefer Black men over Asian men (i.e., the group stereotyped as more masculine). Here, we argue that focusing solely on White Americans' preferences neglects the reality that Americans of color also have preferences (and beliefs about others' preferences) that contribute to the composition of U.S. interracial relationships.METHOD: We used multiple methodologies (i.e., surveys and experimental manipulations) to examine Asian, Black, and White Americans beliefs about others' preferences.RESULTS: Across three studies (N = 3,728), we reveal that Asian, Black, and White Americans have beliefs about others' preferences (Study 1), that those beliefs mirror their own preferences (Study 2), and that those beliefs have causal implications for their own preferences (Study 3).CONCLUSION: Collectively, these findings reveal that such beliefs (and preferences) advantage White Americans, such that both Asian and Black Americans believe that they are more attractive to White Americans than to each other, which leads them to be more attracted to White Americans. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

    View details for DOI 10.1037/cdp0000592

    View details for PubMedID 37199957

  • The Effects of Editorial-Board Diversity on Race Scholars and Their Scholarship: A Field Experiment. Perspectives on psychological science : a journal of the Association for Psychological Science Auelua-Toomey, S. L., Roberts, S. O. 2022: 17456916211072851


    Psychological science is in a unique position to identify and dismantle the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that maintain and increase racial inequality, yet the extent to which psychological science can do so depends on the extent to which race scholarship is supported in psychological science. We theorized that the lack of racial diversity among editors at mainstream journals might obstruct the advancement of race scholarship by signaling to race scholars that their research is not valued by mainstream journals and that they should submit their research elsewhere for publication. Indeed, in a preregistered field experiment with 1,189 psychology Ph.D. students, we found that under all-White editorial boards, race scholars were less likely than non-race scholars (a) to believe that the journal valued racial diversity, research on race, or their own research; (b) to believe that the journal would publish their research; and (c) to be willing to submit their research to the journal for publication. Under racially diverse editorial boards, however, we find no differences between race scholars and non-race scholars. In fact, we found that under diverse editorial boards, compared with under all-White editorial boards, both race scholars and non-race scholars had more positive perceptions of the journal. We argue that racially diverse editorial boards are good for race scholars and their scholarship and for the field more broadly.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/17456916211072851

    View details for PubMedID 35839092