Getting Ahead in Life

Can people really go from rags to riches?  

While Horatio Alger's classic stories of poor boys overcoming terrible poverty to rise to great success later in life are legendary, we tend to be more cynical about whether this can happen in real life.  Despite the enduring belief in the classic "American success story", the general belief tends to be that having rich parents guarantees success later in life while children of poor parents tend to be stay poor no matter what they do.  

But is that necessarily true?   While socioeconomic status (SES) does seem to have  a powerful influence on the kind of status children attain later in life, other traits such as intelligence and personality can often be more important.    Children with the right qualities can do very well for themselves no matter how disadvantaged their backgrounds might be.  For that matter, even children of parents who are financially well-off may find themselves doing more poorly than their parents might hope depending on their own abilities or personality traits.  

To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post.


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