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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2011 :  07:00:39  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Interesting article about the scientific study of willpower that may more specifically begin to explain why poor people have far greater difficulty making the sort of decisions necessary to bring them out of poverty:
http://www.newamerica.net/publications/articles/2011/why_can_t_more_poor_people_escape_poverty_52526

The idea is that making trade-off decisions causes mental fatigue and that the more one must engage in such decision making, the more difficult it becomes to do so sensibly.
The level at which the poor have to exert financial self-control, they have suggested, is far lower than the level at which the well-off have to do so. Purchasing decisions that the wealthy can base entirely on preference, like buying dinner, require rigorous tradeoff calculations for the poor. As Princeton psychologist Eldar Shafir formulated the point in a recent talk, for the poor, “almost everything they do requires tradeoff thinking. It’s distracting, it’s depleting … and it leads to error.” The poor have to make financial tradeoff decisions, as Shafir put it, “on anything above a muffin.”


Basically the mental stress of constantly having to choose between short-term relief and small long-term gains, well, makes people dumber. I have thought this for a long time having noticed in my own behavior (for instance, going on a diet or saving money for something makes me more indulgent and dumb in other areas of my life.) so it is nice to see some scientific studies that back up my suspicions. Also explains the amusing cliche of the person who orders a burger and fries with a diet coke. I also like how this explanation shows that individuals are not necessarily "smart" or "stupid" in any overall way when it comes to making any specific decision. The mistakes made by people here is because of mental fatigue. So a person could overall have high intelligence but still make many bad decisions, just like an athlete could get clumsy or weak if sufficiently physically fatigued.

I hope this sort of science can be used to improve our approaches to dealing with poverty as a social problem. The SEED accounts and technological innovations to save people time and energy mentioned in the article are a good examples of possible innovations in social programs to deal with it.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

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Ebone4rock
SFN Regular

USA
894 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2011 :  08:56:10   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ebone4rock a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I am having a difficult time resisting posting the things that are going through my head right now. It must have been the decision I had to make this morning between having my coffee on this hot, humid day and a nice, cold beverage that is making it so hard.

All of this suggests that we need to rethink our approaches to poverty reduction. Many of our current anti-poverty efforts focus on access to health, educational, agricultural, and financial services. Now, it seems, we need to start treating willpower as a scarce and important resource as well.



I have the answer. Each poor person should be assigned a mentor who can be with them 24/7 and make decisions for them............


.......or we can just let nature takes it's course.

Haole with heart, thats all I'll ever be. I'm not a part of the North Shore society. Stuck on the shoulder, that's where you'll find me. Digging for scraps with the kooks in line. -Offspring
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alienist
Skeptic Friend

USA
210 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2011 :  09:49:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send alienist a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think schools should teach financial management.
The more we can empower people to escape poverty the better it is for us all. Of course, it means investing more money into education rather than the military. It is a concept that a lot of Americans just don't get.

The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well! - Joe Ancis
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2011 :  10:26:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ebone, you seem unable to separate your strong emotions on the topic of poverty as a social ill. You react very sarcastically in every conversation on the subject, but bring forth little to no objective empirical evidence to support your opinions. Do you have any criticisms of the science mentioned in this article?

On letting nature take its course, ah nature, such a lovely thing it is...






Yay for survival of the fittest! (a phrase coined by social, not biological Darwinists.)

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

Edited by - marfknox on 06/07/2011 10:27:44
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2011 :  10:29:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
alienist, while I agree that financial management is poorly understood by most people and would probably be a very valuable thing to include in a general education for all, I think the point of this article is that knowledge aloneof the right long-term decisions to make is not enough to help most poor people help themselves.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2011 :  10:33:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
marfknox said:
Also explains the amusing cliche of the person who orders a burger and fries with a diet coke.

I order diet drinks all the time with my burger/fries. Because I don't like the excessively sweet taste of high fructose corn syrup. Also, if you do like I do, and drink about three or four glasses worth, it keeps you from ingesting an additional large amount of calories. 32oz of soda/fruit juice/sweet tea/etc is about 400 dietary calories. I easily drink that much with a meal, maybe more if the fries are salty.

Yeah yeah, I could just drink water, and I usually do get water with whatever, but I like some flavor and carbonation with my drinks too.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2011 :  10:35:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Also, the diet coke thing with burger and fries is really just funny when its a giantly fat person ordering that combo. It makes you want to tell them to put the burger down and order a salad!


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2011 :  10:40:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Further response to alienist - an example of people who obviously have the info to make better decisions, but none-the-less don't is nurses who are notorious for their high rates of obesity and smoking. We don't see the same problem with doctors who work in the same institutions. After reading this article I find myself wondering if nurses typically have to deal with more trade-off decision making and perhaps the mental fatigue from it contributes to the frequency of poor personal decision making with regards to diet, exercise, and smoking.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2011 :  10:42:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
For what it is worth, the diet coke example was more meant to be a lighthearted example to illustrate the general point. I know lots of people who prefer the taste of diet coke because they've grown used to it, and certainly knocking off a few hundred calories when one is eating a high calorie meal is a good idea.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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Ebone4rock
SFN Regular

USA
894 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2011 :  11:24:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ebone4rock a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by marfknox

Ebone, you seem unable to separate your strong emotions on the topic of poverty as a social ill. You react very sarcastically in every conversation on the subject, but bring forth little to no objective empirical evidence to support your opinions. Do you have any criticisms of the science mentioned in this article?

On letting nature take its course, ah nature, such a lovely thing it is...


Yay for survival of the fittest! (a phrase coined by social, not biological Darwinists.)


So my disdain for poor people is that obvious?

My sarcasm stems from the lack of reasonable answers for what to actually do about the problem.

The results of that study apply to every human being, not just poor people. The only answer I can see coming from the study is to either take away freedom from poor people by making decisions for them or just letting nature takes it's course.

Do I have any criticisms of the science explained? There is very little that is talked about in detail in this particular article so I do not have enough information. I may just be interested enough in this subject to do more research later.

What I would like to see is this information
This theory of depletable willpower has its detractors, and, as in most academic topics studied across disciplinary fields, one finds plenty of disputes over the details. But this model of self-control is now one of the most prominent theories of willpower in social psychology, at the core of what E. Tory Higgins of Columbia University described in 2009 as “an explosion of scientific interest” in the topic over the last decade. Some skeptics correctly emphasize the vital role of motivation, and some emphasize instead that “attention” is limited. But the core of the breakthrough is that resolving conflicts among choices is expensive at a cognitive level and can be unpleasant. It causes mental fatigue.



I am also unsure of how they are getting that poor people have more decisions to make than everyone else.
Nowhere is this revelation more important than in our efforts to understand poverty. Taking this model of willpower into the real world, psychologists and economists have been exploring one particular source of stress on the mind: finances. The level at which the poor have to exert financial self-control, they have suggested, is far lower than the level at which the well-off have to do so. Purchasing decisions that the wealthy can base entirely on preference, like buying dinner, require rigorous tradeoff calculations for the poor. As Princeton psychologist Eldar Shafir formulated the point in a recent talk, for the poor, “almost everything they do requires tradeoff thinking. It’s distracting, it’s depleting … and it leads to error.” The poor have to make financial tradeoff decisions, as Shafir put it, “on anything above a muffin.”



I am neither poor nor wealthy but I have to make "tradeoff" decisions all the time. For example, Do we get new carpet or stash that money away for a vacation? Although that example is not a life or death question it seems reasonable to me that it would have equal psychological impact on me as someone who has to choose between whether to eat ribeye or Spam for dinner. (mmmm...Spam!!!)

I just don't think this article gives enough information. It seems to be biased toward the poor lovers.

Haole with heart, thats all I'll ever be. I'm not a part of the North Shore society. Stuck on the shoulder, that's where you'll find me. Digging for scraps with the kooks in line. -Offspring
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Hal
Skeptic Friend

USA
302 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2011 :  13:47:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Hal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Ebone4rock


So my disdain for poor people is that obvious?

My sarcasm stems from the lack of reasonable answers for what to actually do about the problem.

...

I just don't think this article gives enough information. It seems to be biased toward the poor lovers.



This is commendably honest. I think many of us are frustrated by our inability to offer viable, and palatable, solutions to this problem. Personally, rather than disdain and sarcasm, I try to translate my frustration into compassion and empathy, being all-to-keenly aware of my own shortcomings. Also, the older I get, the more I find that the sentiments I choose to express tend to reflect on myself, at least as much as their intended target. I've never been to a funeral where the deceased was eulogized for his harsh attitudes towards others.

Frankly, I don't have much trouble accepting the notion that a shortage of mental, emotional, or physical stamina, commonly referred to as "laziness," may fundamentally inhibit an individual's success in life. One may also state the converse: those with more stamina are more likely to prevail. These are, essentially, truisms.

Although I accept the principle that an individual's fortune is directly related to his/her personal industry, I also accept that chance can have no less of an influence, for better or for worse. I don't think there's any fundamental contradiction between feeling compassion for someone, and acknowledging that they may be the author of their own misfortune. If that makes me a "poor lover," so be it.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King Jr.

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Ebone4rock
SFN Regular

USA
894 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2011 :  14:41:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ebone4rock a Private Message  Reply with Quote
originally posted by Hal
I think many of us are frustrated by our inability to offer viable, and palatable, solutions to this problem. Personally, rather than disdain and sarcasm, I try to translate my frustration into compassion and empathy,


I wish I could do that but I just can't. I have not yet shared my own personal first-hand story which I only within the last few years realized made me the way I am. The time may be coming soon though seeing as I am getting closer to being able to talk about it.

The only real solution is education combined with (and this is what everyone seems to hate so much) pulling ones self up by the bootstraps and making ones self useful to society. Thats it. It's the only reasonable thing that can be done. I get sick and tired of all the excuses. "....but it's really hard.....but I'm scared....yada yada yada.."

Although I accept the principle that an individual's fortune is directly related to his/her personal industry, I also accept that chance can have no less of an influence, for better or for worse. I don't think there's any fundamental contradiction between feeling compassion for someone, and acknowledging that they may be the author of their own misfortune. If that makes me a "poor lover," so be it.


I absolutely love this paragraph. Maybe someday I will develop compassion for this particular subject but I can't yet.

I would just like to add that I never met a person with a good work ethic and integrity who could not pull themselves out of a hole.

Haole with heart, thats all I'll ever be. I'm not a part of the North Shore society. Stuck on the shoulder, that's where you'll find me. Digging for scraps with the kooks in line. -Offspring
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Ebone4rock
SFN Regular

USA
894 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2011 :  14:55:24   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ebone4rock a Private Message  Reply with Quote
marfknox, there is one thing I seem to keep forgetting to address.

You react very sarcastically in every conversation on the subject, but bring forth little to no objective empirical evidence to support your opinions.


Exactly how does anyone obtain objective, empirical evidence on this subject? Are the poor people going to open up and say " Well of course I am poor because I am uneducated and lazy"?

Haole with heart, thats all I'll ever be. I'm not a part of the North Shore society. Stuck on the shoulder, that's where you'll find me. Digging for scraps with the kooks in line. -Offspring
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2011 :  14:56:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Ebone4rock

The only real solution is education...
It's a shame that many are too poor to afford an education.
...combined with (and this is what everyone seems to hate so much) pulling ones self up by the bootstraps and making ones self useful to society.
Can you offer point-by-point steps for doing so?

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Hal
Skeptic Friend

USA
302 Posts

Posted - 06/07/2011 :  15:58:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Hal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Ebone4rock



I wish I could do that but I just can't. I have not yet shared my own personal first-hand story which I only within the last few years realized made me the way I am. The time may be coming soon though seeing as I am getting closer to being able to talk about it.


I think if you, or someone close to you, is significantly harmed through someone else's neglect, that gets into different territory. I'm certainly not capable of being sanguine in such circumstances, and I don't hold that anyone is unaccountable for their actions.

The only real solution is education combined with (and this is what everyone seems to hate so much) pulling ones self up by the bootstraps and making ones self useful to society. Thats it. It's the only reasonable thing that can be done. I get sick and tired of all the excuses. "....but it's really hard.....but I'm scared....yada yada yada.."


I'm not sure that exploring the circumstances that limit a person's ability to make good decisions, or take advantage of opportunity, is the same thing as offering "excuses." Sure, we all tend to use them that way; when we find ourselves in a jam, we're often more inclined to look for the easy way out, rather than the hard way. The more "moral stamina" we possess, the more likely we are to choose the more challenging path, if it promises better long-term results. And I think that this article is simply saying that failure can erode our stamina, just as success builds it up. Failure breeds failure, success breeds success, if you will. The more I sit on my couch and watch TV, the less inclined I am to go out and get some exercise. The more I exercise, the less I want to sit on the couch. That makes a bit of sense to me, but it doesn't mean that I think that sloth is morally equivalent to industry. By all means, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, if you have 'em! If you have the opportunity but you don't take advantage, you've no one else to blame. And yet, I'm aware that many times we don't take advantage of our opportunities - maybe we fail to see them, or maybe we don't believe in the possibility of success.

Yes,it's a conundrum, and I can only surmise that the degree to which we're able to express compassion for the down-trodden is limited by the sense of "damage" that we've suffered on account of their failure. Did I drain my bank account supporting my gambling-addicted brother? Did my daughter suffer at the hands of her unemployed, alcoholic husband? Was I crippled in a shooting while being mugged? I don't contend that I will be capable of compassion and empathy in all cases. And yet, for that very reason, I try not to let disdain become my "default" position.

Maybe someday I will develop compassion for this particular subject but I can't yet.


I hope so as well, for your own sake, and in the (unlikely) chance that it could contribute to the individual's eventual rehabilitation. Who wouldn't rather see their wounds heal, rather than continue to fester? Ironically, it sounds like you may be in a situation very much like that described in the article - you've "maxed out" your ability to care about this person. Most of us would accept that as perfectly normal.


I would just like to add that I never met a person with a good work ethic and integrity who could not pull themselves out of a hole.


Well, I'm not sure I can agree with you there. I've known good, honest, hard-working people who've been brought down by circumstances beyond their control (a cancer diagnosis, for example, can turn the tables on just about anyone). At the same time, I've seen lots of people succeed without even trying. That's not to say that it's all luck and circumstance, just that personal effort isn't everything, in terms of material success.

Having said all that, I'm ready to accept that I'm just getting soft-headed as I get older (I would like to say, soft-hearted, but I'm afraid I don't even pretend to possess any "spiritual" notions any more).

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King Jr.

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Ebone4rock
SFN Regular

USA
894 Posts

Posted - 06/08/2011 :  06:34:07   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ebone4rock a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

Originally posted by Ebone4rock

The only real solution is education...
It's a shame that many are too poor to afford an education.
...combined with (and this is what everyone seems to hate so much) pulling ones self up by the bootstraps and making ones self useful to society.
Can you offer point-by-point steps for doing so?


Yes Dave, it is a shame. My wish is that there were as many billboards advertising education as there are advertising Big Macs.

Can I offer step by step instructions? No. Every situation is different. There can not be step-by step instructions.

Haole with heart, thats all I'll ever be. I'm not a part of the North Shore society. Stuck on the shoulder, that's where you'll find me. Digging for scraps with the kooks in line. -Offspring
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