Identity Research That Engages Contextual Forces to Reduce Socioeconomic Disparities in Education

Mesmin Destin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


A growing amount of psychological research contributes to the understanding of complex social issues, including socioeconomic disparities in academic outcomes. At a basic level, several studies demonstrate the ways that socioeconomic resources and opportunities shape the identities of students during adolescence and young adulthood, particularly emphasizing how they imagine their lives in the future. These future identities, in turn, affect how students engage in school tasks and respond to academic difficulty. The implications of these basic insights connecting socioeconomic resources, identity, and academic outcomes are most meaningful when considered within various levels of social-contextual influence that surround students. A collection of studies demonstrates how peers, parents, teachers, and educational institutions as a whole can be targeted and leveraged to support student identities and outcomes. This deepened engagement with various levels of context can complement and advance the existing emphasis on individual-level intervention as a strategy to contribute to the progress of psychological science toward greater influence and significance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-166
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • education
  • identity
  • socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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