Protective Factors for Health Among Low-Socioeconomic-Status Individuals

Edith Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Low socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with a wide array of poor health outcomes. Nonetheless, some low-SES individuals maintain good physical health despite facing recurrent, severe adversities in life. This article describes a "shift-and-persist" model that explains why that is. The model states that in the midst of adversity, some low-SES children find role models who teach them to trust others, to better regulate their emotions, and to focus on their futures. Over a lifetime, these low-SES individuals may develop an approach to life that prioritizes shifting (accepting stress for what it is and adapting oneself to it) in combination with persisting (enduring life challenges by holding on to meaning and optimism). This combination of shifting and persisting strategies mitigates physiological responses to the barrage of stressors confronted by low-SES individuals and forestalls pathogenic sequelae that lead to chronic disease. Identifying health-relevant protective qualities that naturally occur in some low-SES individuals represents one important approach for improving the health of those who confront a lifetime of disadvantages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-193
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • health
  • psychosocial
  • socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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