Washington, August 30: A new research has revealed that poverty consumes so much mental energy from those living in poor circumstances that they have little remaining brainpower left to concentrate on other areas of life.
As a result, those with few resources are more likely to make bad decisions that perpetuate their financial woes.
The study suggests our cognitive abilities can be diminished by the exhausting effort of tasks like scrounging to pay bills.
As a result, less "mental bandwidth" remains for education, training, time-management, and other steps that could help break out of the cycles of poverty.
Lead author Jiaying Zhao, a University of British Columbia professor who conducted the study as a graduate student at Princeton University, said that previous accounts of poverty have blamed the poor for their personal failings, or an environment that is not conducive to success.
In one set of experiments, the researchers found that pressing financial concerns had an immediate negative 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.
In another series of field experiments, the researchers found that farmers show diminished cognitive performance before getting paid for their harvest, compared to after when they had greater wealth.
The study has been published in the journal Science. (ANI)