A path to advance research on identity and socioeconomic opportunity

Mesmin Destin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


A growing amount of psychological theory and evidence explains pathways between a young person's socioeconomic background, their identity, and their achievement of academic and career goals. These models provide an important foundation to investigating life trajectories, which can be expanded in 3 specific ways. First, studies can explicitly consider the important role of other social factors that intersect and overlap with socioeconomic considerations, including those related to the experience of race-ethnicity and racism. They can also be expanded to more directly acknowledge the strengths and assets of students from nondominant groups. Last, more research can holistically investigate the connections between achievement goal pursuit and physical health. The current article highlights select empirical studies advancing the psychological study of socioeconomic opportunity in these ways. The article also includes implications for the study of identity and the development of not only interventions but also a reimagining of systemic and institutional support particularly for people who face multiple dimensions of barriers in pursuing opportunities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1071-1079
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number9
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Academic achievement
  • Health
  • Identity
  • Race-ethnicity
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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