Article 12.docx

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University of Guelph
Family Relations and Human Development
FRHD 3090
Michelle Preyde

Article 12 Summary Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function (Main et al., 2013) -Studies indicate correlation b/w poverty and counterproductive behaviour -less preventative health care -less productive work -fail to adhere to drug regimens -less attentive parents -tardier/less likely to keep appts -worse managers of their finances -These behaviours are esp. concerning b/c they further deepen poverty -Some explanations of the correlation focus on environmental conditions of poverty -predatory lenders create high-interest-rate borrowing -unreliable transportation can cause tardiness and absenteeism -Other explanations focus on the characteristics of the poor -lower levels of formal education -less parental attention -Authors’ explanation focuses on the mental processes required by poverty -Cognitive system has limited capacity so preoccupations w/ budgetary concerns (e.g. managing sporadic income, making tradeoffs, etc.) leave fewer cognitive resources available to guide choices and reduce capacity to deal w/ other problems –suggesting a causal relationship b/w poverty and mental functioning -Authors tested their explanation using two different but complementary designs 1. Lab study 2. Field study -These studies sidestep the discussion on whether poverty is best defined in absolute or relative terms -Since hypothesis is about how monetary concerns tax the cognitive system, poverty was broadly defined as the gap between needs and the resources available which encompasses low-income individuals both in the developing and the developed world and those experiencing sharp transitory income shocks -Existing theory and data suggest a possibly cumulative long-term impact of poverty on cognition -Childhood poverty may hinder brain development and reduce adult cognitive capacity -Hypothesis and tests focus on an immediate impact of poverty on cognition so the proposed mechanism does not operate through brain development (rather through immediate cognitive load) The Laboratory Studies -4 experiments that induced richer and poorer participants to think about everyday financial demands -Hypothesized that for rich, these run-of-the-mill financial snags are of little consequence. But for poor these demands can trigger persistent and distracting concerns -Designed to show that similarly sized financial challenges can have different cognitive impacts on the poor and the rich -Experiment 1: scenarios that described a financial problem the participants might experience (e.g. car problem that requires $X to fix... How would decide what to do?) Meant to trigger thoughts of the participant’s own finances -After viewing each scenario and thinking about how to solve the problem, participants performed 2 computer-based tasks used to measure cognitive function: Raven’s Progressive Matrices (sequence of shapes w/ one missing, need to chose best fit) and a spatial compatibility (respond quickly and often contrary to initial impulse, speed and accuracy measures cognitive control --the ability to guide thought and action in accordance with internal goals) -After completing the tasks they responded to original scenario -Randomly assigned either to ―hard‖ condition (high cost to evoke high monetary concerns) or ―easy‖ condition (lower cost evoke few monetary concerns) -For ―easy‖ scenario, the poor and rich performed similarly [ -For ―hard‖ scenarios, the poor performed significantly worse than did the rich on both computer tasks -2-Way analysis revealed a robust interaction b/w income and condition where poor performed reliably worse than rich overall w/ a large effect size (Cohen’s d 0.88 - 0.94) -Experiment 2: to rule out the effect of ―math anxiety,‖ used nonfinancial scenarios to recreate the math problem w/o evoking financial concerns -Found no interaction b/w difficulty and participants’ income -Experiment 3: added incentives to experiment 1 ($0.25/correct response) -Similar results -poor performed similarly to the rich in the easy condition and worse in the hard condition and rich performed equally well in the easy and hard conditions -Again this showed an interaction b/w income and scenario -Despite the incentives and fact that poor needed the money more, the poor performed worse overall -Experiment 4: to rule out the possibility of the cognitive tests creating additional load, experiment 1 was replicated but participants finished responding to each scenario before proceeding to the tasks -Results match those in experiments 1 and 3 -Results were remarkably consistent but there are limitations: -Causal attributio
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