How Financial Woes Change Your Brain (And Not for the Better)

TIME:

Worrying about making ends meet, it seems, can occupy enough of the brain‘s finite thinking power that it makes it difficult to think clearly.

 

According to the latest research published in Science, just thinking about shaky finances can drop IQ by the equivalent of 13 points. That may help to explain why poverty can become a vicious cycle, with lower income people tending to make seemingly irrational and risky decisions, particularly when it comes to money.

With half the American population living from paycheck to paycheck, the study’s lead author Eldar Shafir, professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University, says the findings are relevant to understanding how financial circumstances influence intellectual ability.

“There’s always been this perception that the poor function less well,” says Shafir, “But it’s not the person, it’s the situation they’re in and anyone could find themselves there.” Previous studies have found the poor to be generally less productive, less attuned as parents, and to have lower IQs— findings that are apparently linked to the stress of poverty.  But those studies also left the impression that these factors might be causes of poverty, while the latest research suggests that they may be the result.

Read the whole story: TIME

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