People living in poverty often show counterproductive behaviours. On average, poor people use less preventive health care (Katz and Hofer, 1994), are less attentive parents (McLoyd, 1998) and have trouble managing their finances (Barr, 2012).
While some people take these findings as an opportunity to express accusations (“No wonder, they are poor, they are behaving silly!”) recent studies suggest, that poverty itself can cause cognitive costs.
For instance, in a sample of Indian sugarcane farmers Mani et al. (2013) observed, that one and the same person had different intelligence test scores in times of poverty (pre-harvest) and times of wealth (post-harvest).
Mani – Mullainathan – Shafir – Zhao – Poverty impedes cognitive function – intelligence – cognitive control – priming – New Jersey Mall – car repair (1500 vs. 150) – math anxiety – incentives – Raven’s Progressive Matrices – Adele Diamond – Indian sugarcane farmers – numerical Stroop test – pre-harvest vs. post-harvest – alternative explanations – calendar effects – nutrition effects – stress effects – training effects – Hofman – Vohs – Baumeister – media use – resisting desires – self control – limited resource – ego depletion