Link

STUDY: Poverty makes it (mentally) harder to do…lots of things!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/poverty-strains-cognitive-abilities-opening-door-for-bad-decision-making-new-study-finds/2013/08/29/89990288-102b-11e3-8cdd-bcdc09410972_story.html

^Another article (in case the first doesn’t work)

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/341/6149/976.abstract

^The actual study (although to read full-text, you’ll need an account as usual).

Also interesting to note that the results hold true with different types of poor people: yea, someone poor in America is probably objectively less poor than a farmer in Tamil Nadu (India), but both sets of poor people are still affected similarly.

All in all, this study is yet another nail in the coffin against the modern version of Puritan work ethic (more specifically, using said version to claim that poor people deserve to be poor or simply need to work harder). Turns out that hey, if you’re born poor/shitty circumstances make you poor it’s damn tough to work your way out of the situation, and that’s not just because the current economic climate is arguably unfavorable (in America at least) to many poor people!

This study also appears to fit with/use new psychological perspectives on willpower. IIRC (I’ll try and edit in some studies if/when I come across them in a bit), willpower is now being evaluated more and more (from a psychological perspective) as a finite resource, i.e., you have X units of willpower to spend, and you can get a loan of sorts mentally but you do pay that back as well (in the form of less willpower to call upon at a later time).

This idea goes well with the study in the OP (and is kinda referenced): being poor automatically confers extra stressors that use up willpower units, and doing anything at all when poor will also use more units of willpower (because you have that “will this be worth it from a cost-benefit point/do I need this to not sink into a depression about my socioeconomic status (which is a real thing if you’re poor)/how does this factor into my long-term financial situation” set of thoughts affecting your decision-making and hanging over your head constantly). This makes you more likely to forget small things (which can lead to late fees on bills) or make hasty/incorrect decisions (more examples in the study).

Nonetheless, the conclusion (yet again) is that being poor is not fun and we should not penalize people for being poor (either if you’re born into poverty or fall into it [although more leniency for those who fall into poverty through no direct reason/cause of their own]) and should instead seek to improve our resources for poor people.

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