December 28, 2016 | Knowledge@Wharton

Why Mental Bandwidth Could Explain the Psychology Behind Poverty

In her recent paper, “The Psychological Lives of the Poor,” Schofield, a professor in the department of medical ethics and health policy at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine and a operations, information, and decisions professor at Wharton, and her co-authors — economists Frank Schilbach of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Sendhil Mullainathan of Harvard University — reviewed research on bandwidth and how it may affect the psychology behind poverty. Specifically, Schofield says, they posit that poverty may reduce the available cognitive bandwidth to the point where one’s ability to make better choices could be severely reduced.

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