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Poverty Causes Cognitive Overload

Stashed in: Brain, Poverty, Brain, Most Important Stash Ever, SE, Poverty, Cognitive Bias

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New evidence showing how poverty causes cognitive dissonance that interferes with a person's ability to make decisions:

“When you are very, very focused on what you don’t have enough of, you do all you can do to get more of it, at the expense of other stuff,” says Eldar Shafir of Princeton University, who worked on the study published in the journal Science.

They characterize the cognitive dissonance as,

"Imagine you're sitting in front of a computer, and it's just incredibly slow," says Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan, who worked on the study.

"But then you realize that it's working in the background to play a huge video that's downloading. It's not that the computer is slow, it's that it's doing something else, so it seems slow to you. I think that's the heart of what we're trying to say."

It is an argument for both a living wage and a set of public services that literally empower people's brains to function more effectively, so that they can help themselves better.


Because poverty weakens the brain, it's difficult for people in poverty to get out of poverty.

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