Identity-Based Motivation: Implications for Intervention

Daphna Oyserman*, Mesmin Destin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

305 Scopus citations


Children want to succeed academically and attend college but their actual attainment often lags behind; some groups (e.g., boys, low-income children) are particularly likely to experience this gap. Social structural factors matter, influencing this gap in part by affecting children's perceptions of what is possible for them and people like them in the future. Interventions that focus on this macro—micro interface can boost children's attainment. We articulate the processes underlying these effects using an integrative culturally sensitive framework entitled identity-based motivation (IBM). The IBM model assumes that identities are dynamically constructed in context. People interpret situations and difficulties in ways that are congruent with currently active identities and prefer identity-congruent to identity-incongruent actions. When action feels identity congruent, experienced difficulty highlights that the behavior is important and meaningful. When action feels identity incongruent, the same difficulty suggests that the behavior is pointless and “not for people like me”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1001-1043
Number of pages43
JournalThe Counseling Psychologist
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • African American
  • Hispanic
  • achievement
  • adolescence
  • depression
  • health
  • possible selves
  • prevention
  • school
  • self-regulation
  • social identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Identity-Based Motivation: Implications for Intervention'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this