This Is Your Mind on Poverty

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confused baby

Pointing out that economic stress affects people physically is hardly a groundbreaking revelation. There’s a plenty of evidence that links socioeconomic status with health outcomes, and more than enough studies demonstrate the connection between social stress and physical well-being. But a new study has emerged that examines how poverty affects the mind.

You heard that right. According to a new study published in the journal Science  there appears to be a relationship between poverty and decreased intellectual capacity.

The scientists controlled for intellect by administering a basic IQ test to all participants before beginning the experiment. The initial IQ levels were similar among participants across the income scale, which ranged from $20,000 to $70,000 per year. However, when the participants with the lowest incomes were asked to contemplate an expensive car repair bill, their IQ scores noticeably plummeted, while those with higher incomes showed no slip in IQ when faced with the same car repair bill scenario.

Researchers say this points to the idea that when it comes to decision-making and intellectual capacity among those with lower incomes, external circumstances are the driving forces in decision-making. Worrying about money appears to take up a large amount of brain space—a finite resource for all of us—leaving less brain space for dealing with other issues.

We live in an economically diverse state, so we must look not just at individuals, but at the circumstances they’re facing. These findings underscore the need to reach out and actively support the most vulnerable children and families in Georgia, so get in touch with your local Georgia Family Connection Collaborative.