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Mesmin Destin

Mesmin Destin

  • Faculty Director of Student Access and Enrichment
  • Associate Professor, Human Development and Social Policy
  • Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Annenberg Hall Room 203, 2120 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208

Organization or Lab

Destin Lab


Mesmin Destin directs a multidisciplinary lab group and investigates social psychological mechanisms underlying socioeconomic disparities in educational outcomes during adolescence and young adulthood. Using laboratory and field experiments, Destin studies factors that influence how young people perceive themselves and pursue their futures. At the university level, Destin examines how social experiences and institutional structures shape the motivation, well-being, and educational trajectories of lower socioeconomic status and first-generation college students.


  • PhD, Social Psychology, University of Michigan, 2010
  • BA, Psychology and Sociology, Northwestern University, 2005

Awards and Honors

  • 2020 – International Society for Self and Identity Outstanding Early Career Award
  • 2019 – American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution
  • 2019 – Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence Award
  • 2018 – American Psychological Association Committee on Socioeconomic Status Emerging Leadership Award
  • 2018 – Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science
  • 2018 – Northwestern University Collaborative Excellence Award
  • 2016 – William T Grant Scholars Award
  • 2016 – Russell Sage Visiting Scholar Award
  • 2015 – School of Education & Social Policy Outstanding Faculty Award

Selected Publications

Hernandez, I. A., Silverman, D. M., & Destin M. (in press). From deficit to benefit: Highlighting lower-SES students’ background-specific strengths increases their academic persistence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Destin, M. (2019). Socioeconomic mobility, identity, and health: Experiences that influence immunology and implications for intervention. American Psychologist, 74, 207-217.

Destin, M., Castillo, C., & Meissner, L. (2018). A field experiment demonstrates near peer mentorship as an effective support for student persistence. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 40, 269-278.

Destin, M. & Svoboda, R. C. (2018). Costs on the mind: The influence of the financial burden of college on academic performance and cognitive functioning. Research in Higher Education, 59, 302-324.

Destin, M., Rheinschmidt-Same, M., & Richeson, J. R. (2017). Status-based identity: A conceptual framework integrating the social psychological study of socioeconomic status and identity. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12, 270-289.

Destin, M. (2017). An open path to the future: Perceived financial resources and school motivation. Journal of Early Adolescence, 37, 1004-1031.

Browman, A. S. & Destin, M. (2016). The effects of a warm or chilly climate towards socioeconomic diversity on academic motivation and self-concept. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 42, 172-187.

Stephens, N. M., Hamedani, M. G., Destin, M. (2014). Closing the social-class achievement gap: A difference-education intervention improves first-generation students’ academic performance and all students’ college transition. Psychological Science, 25, 943-953.

Destin, M., Richman, S., Varner, F., & Mandara, J. (2012). “Feeling” hierarchy: The pathway from subjective social status to achievement. Journal of Adolescence, 35, 1571-1579.

Destin, M., & Oyserman, D. (2010). Incentivizing education: Seeing schoolwork as an investment, not a chore. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 846-849.