ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2014, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (11): 1823-1828.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2014.01823

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Why Poverty Impedes Decision Performance? Three Psychological Explanations

LV Xiaokang1; WANG Xinjian1; FU Xiaoting2   

  1. (1 Department of Social Psychology, Zhou Enlai School of Government, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China) (2 Research Institute of Economics and Management, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, Chengdu, 611130, China)
  • Received:2014-02-11 Online:2014-11-15 Published:2014-11-15
  • Contact: FU Xiaoting, E-mail:


Studies on why poverty impedes decision performance consist of three psychological perspectives. Theory of attention proposes that scarcity directs one’s limited attention to the scarce resources and thus neglects other dimensions; theory of willpower argues the depletion of willpower during the process of resisting temptations from goods or entertainments leads to the failure of self-control; theory of cognitive control contends that poor people tends to make financial decisions with more difficulties and thus more resources are consumed than making other determinations. Depletion of these limited psychological resources impedes the poor’s cognitive performance and leads to irrational behaviors. Further researches should clarify the differences among the three models, explore if the consequences of poverty are reversible, and verify the existing results among different cultures.

Key words: poverty, scarcity, attention, willpower, cognitive control