From deficit to benefit: Highlighting lower-SES students' background-specific strengths reinforces their academic persistence

Ivan A. Hernandez*, David M. Silverman, Mesmin Destin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Students from lower-socioeconomic (SES) backgrounds have unique background-specific strengths that they have acquired from their lived experiences. We test the hypotheses that guiding students toward recognizing the strengths that they have derived from their specific background and experiences will promote their positive understandings of their identities and have positive implications for their academic motivation and psychological well-being. Specifically, we present evidence indicating that a brief experimental paradigm guiding students to reflect on their background-specific strengths leads lower-SES college students (Study 1; N = 186), as well as Black and Latinx middle school students from lower-SES backgrounds (Study 2; N = 912), to endorse the idea that they are assets to their schools and society because of their backgrounds and increases their inclinations to persist in the face of academic difficulty. These psychological consequences were significantly associated with middle school students' end-of-term grades (Study 2).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104080
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume92
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Academic persistence
  • Adversity
  • Motivation
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Strengths-based

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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