Science2014-01-07 10:55 PM

Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function 贫穷阻碍认知功能

Abstract
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. 论文摘要 穷人经常表现得能力不行,并且这可能进一步延续贫困。 我们假设贫困直接阻碍认知功能并且进行了两项研究来验证这一假设。 首先,我们实验诱导了一些财务的想法,发现这降低了穷人的认知表现,但是对富裕人士没有影响。 第二,我们测验了农民在种植周期上的认知功能。我们发现同样的农民的认知能力在丰收以后(富人)比在在丰收以前(穷人)要强。这一结论不能用可用的时间差异,营养度或者工作努力度来解释,也不能用压力来解释:虽然农民们在丰收以前确实表现出更多的压力,但是那并不足以导致认知表现的降低。 相反,它说明了贫穷自身降低认知能力。 我们认为那是因为认知相关的考虑消耗心智资源, 使得可用其来执行其他任务的量就变少了。 这些数据提供了一个前所未有的视角并且帮助解释了穷人的行为模式。 我们讨论了一些扶贫政策的影响。

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