Mesmin Destin is Assistant Professor at Northwestern University, where he runs the Status, Cognition, & Motivation Lab. Dr. Destin earned his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, under a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. He carries a joint appointment between the School of Education and Social Policy, in the Human Development and Social Policy program, and the Department of Psychology, in the Social area. He is also a faculty fellow of the Institute for Policy Research. His research centers primarily on understanding broad societal issues and trends, such as socioeconomic disparities in educational attainment, from a psychological perspective. Under the scope of the Identity-Based Motivation model, he has developed small social psychological interventions, like distributing college financial aid information and drawing attention to the financial rewards of college that significantly improved immediate academic motivation for low-income youth during early adolescence. His work employs laboratory and field experimental methods, in addition to large-scale data analysis.
Dr. Destin investigates how real characteristics of people’s social environment, like opportunity structures, are perceived, interpreted, and can be reframed to influence cognition and motivation. He draws particular focus upon the ways that youth think about barriers and facilitators to future economic success, which can be directly linked to their everyday choices and educational outcomes. In addition to laboratory research, this work includes field experiments and assessments of subtle social psychological interventions amongst youth in diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.