Psychological Challenges and Social Supports That Shape the Pursuit of Socioeconomic Mobility

Mesmin Destin*, Régine Debrosse*, Michelle Rheinschmidt-Same*, Jennifer Anne Richeson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many people seek higher status through socioeconomic mobility. Higher education institutions and professional workplaces include barriers to entry and inclusion that make it difficult for people from lower socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds to reach their goals. Experiences within these settings can lead people to feel status uncertainty, which is an aversive ambiguity about where one stands on the socioeconomic hierarchy. Status uncertainty has negative consequences for achievement and well-being, but social support may play a role and buffer against these negative consequences. First, a longitudinal study of college students shows predicted connections between socioeconomic background, status uncertainty, social support, and grades at the end of the college years. Next, an experiment shows that inducing a stronger sense of social support protects against negative workplace outcomes for those from lower SES backgrounds. Together, the studies demonstrate the significance of supportive forces during the pursuit of socioeconomic mobility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-171
Number of pages14
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022


  • academic achievement
  • social support
  • socioeconomic status
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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