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Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

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Status uncertainty, Social mobility, Discrimination, Cultural mismatch


Periods of social mobility, such as attending college, can challenge one’s status-based identity, leading to uncertainty around one’s status in society. Status uncertainty is associated with poorer well-being and academic outcomes. Little is known, however, about what experiences lead to status uncertainty. The current longitudinal study investigated discrimination experiences and cultural mismatch as predictors of status uncertainty. We propose that discrimination indirectly predicts increased status uncertainty by increasing perceived cultural mismatch with the university. Participants were Latinx college students, all of whom were low-income and/or first generation to college. Discrimination experiences were measured at the end of participants’ first year. Cultural mismatch and status uncertainty were measured at the end of Year 2. Status uncertainty was measured again at the end of Year 3. Results indicated that students who experienced more frequent discrimination felt more cultural mismatch 1 year later, and, in turn, reported increased status uncertainty over the following year.


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