Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education



Major Advisor

Grant Smith

Second Advisor

Christy Wolfe

Third Advisor

William Wells


This study is an investigation of the validity of the theoretical assumptions of a programming model which posits that it is not income but rather a collection of personality and dispositional constructs which provide the foundation of an economically stable life, and that empowering those in poverty to improve their economic situation must begin with these constructs or will be a failed effort. The author provides a review of significant literature supporting the idea that these constructs are associated with better outcomes in many aspects of life. The author then provides original investigative research utilizing a self-administered, 40 item agree/disagree survey (N = 2000) scored on a five-point Likert scale. Phase 1 of the analysis, a Confirmatory Factor Analysis, demonstrated that the manifest measures were satisfactorily valid and reliable predictors of the latent constructs. The pathway analysis of phase 2, which utilized multiple iterations of Structural Equation Modeling, produced a final modal which confirmed that six of the eight constructs were statistically significant predictors of Socio-Economic Status (SES). The largest of those was Health with a standardized coefficient of .634 and a z score of 14.7. Health was followed by Growth Mindset (Coef = -0.238; z = -4.79), Support (Coef = .330; z = 3.05), Self-Advocacy (Coef = -.287; z = -2.51), Models (Coef = .260; z = 2.36), and Faith (Coef = .082; z = 1.81). The constructs Self-Control and Future Orientation were not found to be statistically significant in their relationship to SES but were included in the model because of their covariant relationships to other constructs, both being significant mediators of Health among others. The data supports the assumption that improving an individual’s capacity to utilize these constructs will lead to an improvement in their SES, which serves as a proxy for stability.

Available for download on Friday, April 04, 2025