PerspectivePsychology

The Poor's Poor Mental Power

Science  30 Aug 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6149, pp. 969-970
DOI: 10.1126/science.1244172

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Summary

Few people wish to be poor. Many find it puzzling that those in poverty seem to get stuck in that state, even when there are opportunities to improve one's lot. On page 976 of this issue, Mani et al. (1) provide a possible reason: Poverty-related concerns impair cognitive capacity. Simply put, being poor taps out one's mental reserves. This could explain data showing that the poor are likelier than others to behave in ways that are harmful to health and impede long-term success—in short, behaviors that can perpetuate a disadvantaged state.