Looking at the methodology of this study, it's not very robust. I generally believe that the state of poverty is a complex mix of one's surroundings and own choices. But this really isn't very convincing. The poor people in the study could easily have more trouble with the question because if your car is worth less (probable for poorer people), then deciding whether to scrap the car in an expensive repair is harder to figure out. Plus, the authors suggest that the poor are constantly under this cognitive strain, yet the study itself showed that they do ok so long as they aren't (at that moment) dealing with a difficult financial decision. Very weak proof if you ask me. Here are the study's details:
researchers performed two sets of experiments. In the first, about 400 randomly chosen people in a New Jersey mall were asked how they would respond to a scenario where their car required either $150 or $1,500 in repairs. Would they pay for the work in full, take out of a loan, or put off the repair? How would they make that decision? The subjects varied in annual income from $20,000 to $70,000.Before responding, the subjects were given a series of common tests (identifying sequences of shapes and numbers, for example) measuring cognitive function and fluid intelligence. In the easier scenario, where the hypothetical repair cost only $150, subjects classified as âoepoorâ and âoerichâ performed equally well on these tests. But the âoepoorâ subjects performed noticeably worse in the $1,500 scenario. Simply asking these people to think about financial problems taxed their mental bandwidth.