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date: 20 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

American culture highlights the power of individuals to steer their own course and be masters of their own destiny. In American cultural context, low place in social hierarchy due to low socioeconomic status is taken to imply some deficiency in the persons who occupy this place. This association seems bidirectional: Low place is stigmatizing, and membership in a negatively marked group implies low place in social hierarchy. Low place in social hierarchy limits individuals’ choice and experienced control, influencing identity-based motivational processes. Identity-based motivation theory and its three components: dynamic construction of identity, action-readiness, and procedural-readiness, are used to articulate the health consequences of this interplay. The identities that come to mind and what these identities imply for health is a function of momentary and chronic context. Accessible identities can elicit health-promoting or health-undermining behaviors and interpretations of experienced difficulty. This has implications for intervention.

Keywords: health disparities, identity-based motivation, social identity, possible identities, possible selves, stigmatized identities, social class, action-readiness, culture, race–ethnicity

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