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Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function Study

             Mani, Mullainathan, Shafir and Zhao (2013, p.976) stated, "The poor often behave in less capable ways, which can further perpetuate poverty. This study resonated with me as I have had the opportunity to witness first-hand the poverty in many countries.
             Mani, Mullainathan, Shafir and Zhao (2013) hypothesized that poverty directly impedes cognitive function and present two studies that test it. The studies utilized the experimental method in a laboratory setting as well as in a field study. For the purpose of these two studies, they defined poverty in the broadest of terms, being the gap between one's needs and the resources available to fulfill them (Mani, Mullainathan, Shafir & Zhao 2013).
             Laboratory Study.
             Four experiments were conducted with 101 shoppers from two defined income groups who were paid to participate. Four different financial scenarios were presented for each experiment with participants randomly assigned to a condition that was either hard or easy. Along with the scenarios presented, there were three trials of computer-based cognitive psychology testing and three trials of a cognitive task. Experiment three included an independent variable where each shopper was given funds for each correct answer aside from the participation fee. Mani, Mullainathan, Shafir and Zhao (2013, p.978) stated, "More generally, in all the experiments we explicitly primed monetary concerns. Such explicit priming may not mirror naturally occurring circumstances". While the dependant variables did show a cause and effect relationship highlighted in the cognitive behaviour differences between the rich and poor, it did not reflect real world and time income fluctuations.
             Field Study.
             Random sample of 464 farmers from the two districts were used for this experiment. This study differs from the laboratory study in that the financial challenges were real and not independent variables.

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