Poor people's thinking: How does "scarcity" change our psychology?|ManualTrader

Poor people's thinking: How does "scarcity" change our psychology?

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When we discuss why a person is poor, there are usually two ways of saying:Because I don't work hard, I don't have a skill that can gain a foothold in society. Either unable to resist the temptation, or profligate, in short, it is the problem of insufficient self-effort or lack of self-control.Because of the external environment. For example, children in slums have a high chance of being poor after they grow up. They lack social resources, lack channels for rising, and have no social connections to rely on. All in all, it is a matter of family background and environment.Now, behavioral economics provides us with a third perspective:The poor are due to lack of money, causing certain changes in their psychology and thinking, which make them even more unable to escape poverty.

Lack, changed the mind:In order to understand the impact of food on the human body, an experiment recruited a group of male subjects, and continued to reduce the amount of food provided to them, to the extent that they could only sustain life, and lasted for several months. After the end, as expected, the body shape of the experimenters changed significantly; but unexpectedly, even after the experiment was over, these people also experienced significant psychological changes.

Some people became fascinated by recipes and restaurant menus; some people spent hours comparing the prices of food in the newspaper; some people began to dream of opening a restaurant; the most exaggerated thing is that these things are in the movies. Human plots and love between men and women lost interest, but when the hero and heroine started to eat, they immediately attracted all the attention. In the lives of these subjects, it seems that there is one thing left that deserves their attention-food.

Another experiment is to let children use memory to estimate the size of different coins. The results of the experiment found that for children from poor families, the coin "looks" much larger than its actual size-they obviously overestimated the size of the coin. Later, the researchers took the coins directly in front of the children and asked them to estimate directly. As a result, the estimated size error of children from poor families was greater than before.

Many experiments have shown one thing: in an environment where a certain thing is scarce, people will unknowingly focus all their attention on this thing, and amplify the value of this thing, completely unable to control. So people who have been extremely hungry, they only have food left in their eyes; people who are extremely busy, they only worry about how much time is left; while people who are poor, money is getting bigger and bigger in their eyes; and for those who are extremely lonely As far as people are concerned, they are more likely to worry about interpersonal problems than ordinary people.

The price of concentration:To be honest, no one should be surprised by the above-mentioned research results, and this is in line with the rules of evolution. When a certain substance in life is extremely lacking, evolution must drive us to put the whole body and mind on it and concentrate on this thing extremely. After all, this is more likely to survive and multiply. So when we focus, we will get the so-called "focus bonus": we can arrange resources more efficiently and solve problems we encounter.

Let’s take an example that almost everyone has a lack of time: before the work deadline, I suddenly changed my usual habit of procrastination, my work efficiency was so high, I completely ignored the messages of Facebook and Instagram, and completed the accumulation efficiently in a short time. Assignments or assignments. This is because of the lack of time (the deadline is approaching), so we are more focused on this work.

But everyone’s energy is limited. Focusing on the things in front of you also means ignoring everything else. This will produce the so-called “tunneling effect”: focusing too much on things related to deprivation in front of you but ignoring them. Everything else around. When the things we ignore are very important things, it may have catastrophic consequences.

An example is given in "The Economics of Scarcity": Firefighters have the second highest chance of dying in a vehicle accident (20% to 25%), second only to heart disease. In these accidents, 79% of the deaths were caused by not wearing a seat belt. In this way, many lives can be saved by simply wearing a seat belt. The firefighters are no strangers to these reminders, because their safety training is always emphasized repeatedly. But many firefighters were thrown away by cars and died while on duty. What's the matter?

This is because after receiving the alarm, the firefighters are faced with an extreme lack of time: they not only have to jump on the fire truck and rush to the scene of the fire, but also do a lot of preparations before arriving at the scene-they have to They need to work out a fire fighting strategy on the road, they need to use the computer on the fire truck to study the structure of the burning building, they need to make a route to and from the fire scene, and they need to calculate the number of water taps needed...all of these, All must be completed within a short period of time before arriving at the scene.

Although firefighters are very good at handling these things, they can rush to the far fire scene within a few minutes and obtain a huge focus bonus, but they have to pay the price of the "peep effect": focusing on a certain thing means So we will ignore things outside the goal, such as "fastening seat belts" such important things.

In addition, many studies have shown that our following two abilities will drop a lot at the same time when we are scarce:Decline of cognitive ability: Cognitive ability is the ability of the human brain to process, store, and extract information. It also includes the ability to think, understand, recognize, and imagine. When doing IQ tests, it will use a lot of cognitive ability.

Decline in executive control: executive control is the so-called self-control or willpower, which is our ability to control ourselves and resist temptation.So when we are scarce, on the one hand, our IQ becomes low and people become dumb (some studies have found that the effect is even more than not sleeping all night), on the other hand, the ability to resist temptation is also greatly reduced, which makes us more prone to making mistakes. The decision made is even more difficult to get out of the quagmire of scarcity.

Poor thinking:From the above discussion, we can know that the so-called "poor thinking" is actually too scarce in terms of money, resulting in a corresponding mental state and thinking mode, and long-term scarcity will produce a set of value systems that magnify the role of money. It's like a child from a poor family looking at an "enlarged" coin. 

Ignore the cost of time: In the absence of money, it is easy for us to ignore the cost of time and use time ignorantly for a small amount of money. This can be seen from the long queues when people in Taiwan hear about discounts such as anniversary celebrations. Obviously, they think that time is not worthwhile, and it is far better to exchange it for a small amount of money discounts, but in most cases, this is actually It is the most inefficient way of exchange.

Excessively magnifying the value of money: Regarding the criticism that Taiwanese people like to queue up, some people will say that I don't know how to use the time spent in queuing anyway. It would be better to use it to save some money. This actually reflects another poor people's thinking-under the long-term lack of money, our values ​​are like children of poor people. The value of money has been over-amplified, so that we no longer pay attention to and care about other values ​​in life. For example, the time spent in queuing can be used to enrich oneself, or to do some leisure and entertainment, or to accompany family and find friends, but for those who line up, the value of these beautiful things in life is far away. Far inferior to the little monetary discount that was saved.

Ignore long-term or more important goals: Compared with the first two, this is a fatal flaw in the thinking of the poor. Under the restricted effect, we will spend countless time and energy to compare prices, to calculate a little bit of gains and losses, and think of ways to "calculate" and "live within our means". Finally, we will move ourselves when we save a little bit, in order to make a little bit of bargain. And happy. Human energy is limited. When you work hard for a discount, longer-term and more important goals are usually left behind.

To cite the most common example: We are often excited because of a discount on a certain product, thinking that we will earn it immediately after buying it, but we often forget to think about a more fundamental question: Do I really need such a thing? This will also make it easier for us to fall into the so-called "sunk cost" trap. For example, if we buy a pair of expensive but uncomfortable shoes for a long time, we will continue to stay because of the money we have already spent. Wearing these shoes, but forgetting the most important function of the shoes, isn't it to make people wear comfortable? Keeping your shoes is not only uncomfortable, but it may even risk injury to your feet.

Avoid poor thinking:We already know that scarcity has a great impact on people's psychological state, so the easiest way to deal with the "poor mind" is to avoid getting yourself into a situation of lack of money. This is of course easier said than done. No one is willing to fall into poverty voluntarily. So the author proposes several methods, such as automatically depositing part of the salary in the retirement account, etc., to avoid really falling into this situation.

However, I think the national conditions are completely different. Compared with Europe and the United States, the people in Taiwan who miss the line at night are not really short of that money. It is purely a mentality of over-emphasizing money, occupying the entire life, and just coveting the so-called "small profits." There is no long-term plan to make money or save money. Based on personal experience, provide a few ways to get out of the thinking of the poor:

Set long-term goals and act accordingly: The so-called poor people’s thinking is mainly due to the peeping effect, only paying attention to the petty gains in front of them, and failing to see longer-term plans. To avoid this, it is necessary to develop the habit of "goal-oriented"-many small actions in life have corresponding specific goals, and all large and small actions, including "saving money", serve this goal , And all the saving behaviors that touch this goal are not very meaningful (for goal-oriented exercises, please refer to the article ).

Emperor Daoguang of the Qing Dynasty was known for his frugality among the emperors of the past. To what extent was he "stingy"? On the Queen’s birthday, one person has a bowl of noodles, and they are not allowed to add noodles after eating. However, when he built his mausoleum, he gave too little money, which caused serious engineering quality problems. In the end, he had to dismantle and rebuild the mausoleum. In the end, the cost was the most among all the tombs of the Yellow Emperor in the Qing Dynasty.

This is an example of "small gains" because of petty gains. When constructing the tomb, the most important goal is to "build a strong tomb." All actions should serve this goal, and not conversely save for saving.

Pay attention to the cost of time: First, avoid spending time in exchange for a little monetary compensation, such as queuing. More importantly, learn how to use time effectively: spend time on important things.

For example, a report is to be handed in tomorrow, and I am in a hurry. But we stipulate that we go to the gym twice a week, and today happens to be the day we want to go. At this time, due to the peeping effect, our minds are filled with the report of tomorrow, so we often skip this exercise to save a little time. But fitness is actually an "important but not urgent" thing. It is important because it is related to our health, but occasionally skipping it once or twice seems to not really lose anything. But those important but not urgent matters are precisely the focus of time management, and they are also what we should pay attention to most.

All highly efficient people are those who attach great importance to the cost of time, and effective use of time starts with those "important but not urgent" things.

If you want to learn more about economics, you can go to inshat.