Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function

The poor often behave in less capable ways, which can further perpetuate poverty. We hypothesize that poverty directly impedes cognitive function and present two studies that test this hypothesis. First, we experimentally induced thoughts about finances and found that this reduces cognitive performance among poor but not in well-off participants. Second, we examined the cognitive function of farmers over the planting cycle. We found that the same farmer shows diminished cognitive performance before harvest, when poor, as compared with after harvest, when rich. This cannot be explained by differences in time available, nutrition, or work effort. Nor can it be explained with stress: Although farmers do show more stress before harvest, that does not account for diminished cognitive performance. Instead, it appears that poverty itself reduces cognitive capacity. We suggest that this is because poverty-related concerns consume mental resources, leaving less for other tasks. These data provide a previously unexamined perspective and help explain a spectrum of behaviors among the poor. We discuss some implications for poverty policy.


The stress of poverty can cause a 13 point reduction in IQ that improves when financial security is attained. Details from this article: "In a series of experiments, the researchers found that pressing financial concerns had an immediate impact on the ability of low-income individuals to perform on common cognitive and logic tests. On average, a person preoccupied with money problems exhibited a drop in cognitive function similar to a 13-point dip in IQ, or the loss of an entire night's sleep."

Folksonomies: cognition iq poverty

/health and fitness/nutrition (0.579145)
/business and industrial/agriculture and forestry/crops and seed (0.455831)
/health and fitness/disorders/mental disorder/panic and anxiety (0.401016)

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Poverty (0.987844): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Theory (0.963779): dbpedia | freebase
Scientific method (0.873877): dbpedia | freebase
Experiment (0.830429): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Psychology (0.804047): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Farmer (0.738289): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Mind (0.726544): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Thought (0.682892): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function
Periodicals>Journal Article:  Mani, Mullainathan, Shafir, Zhao (30 August 2013), Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function, Science, Vol. 341 no. 6149 pp. 976-980 , Retrieved on 2014-03-02
  • Source Material [www.sciencemag.org]
  • Folksonomies: cognition iq poverty


    11 AUG 2011

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