Perceptions of socioeconomic mobility influence academic persistence among low socioeconomic status students

Alexander S. Browman*, Mesmin Destin, Kathleen L. Carswell, Ryan C. Svoboda

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite facing daunting odds of academic success compared with their more socioeconomically advantaged peers, many students from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds maintain high levels of academic motivation and persist in the face of difficulty. We propose that for these students, academic persistence may hinge on their perceptions of socioeconomic mobility, or their general beliefs regarding whether or not socioeconomic mobility—a powerful academic motivator—can occur in their society. Specifically, low-SES students' desire to persist on a primary path to mobility (i.e., school) should remain strong if they believe that socioeconomic mobility can occur in their society. By contrast, those who believe that socioeconomic mobility generally does not occur should be less motivated to persist academically. One correlational and two experimental studies provide support for this hypothesis among low (but not high) SES high school and university students. Implications for future intervention efforts are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-52
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume72
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

Keywords

  • Academic persistence
  • Socioeconomic mobility
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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