It’s easy to see that, but did you know that poverty can actually hurts your brain?
Being Poor and Being Less Intelligent
In recent years, researchers have begun finding links between your economic circumstances (being poor) and your IQ. Essentially, they’ve discovered that poverty hurts your brain. For some, that might seem counterintuitive – if intelligence is genetic, then how can poverty make you less intelligent?
It is true that a large part of your intelligence comes from the genetics you inherit from your parents. However, genetics don’t tell the complete story. Your environment also has a huge impact on how intelligent you become.
Your Brain Growing During Fetus Development
This might seem obvious during the fetal development of the fetus due to prenatal care, exposure to toxins, and the stress the mother experiences. All of these different factors can easily affect the brain development of the baby. However, it is not just during prenatal development that the environment can affect your brain. Good news for people who are poor, studies have shown that the damage caused by poverty is short-term and can be reversed.
What Effects of Being Poor Causes Less Intelligence?
Here are several of the ways that show poverty hurts and decreases intelligence to those who are poor.
- Living in a violent neighborhood
- A noisy environment. Noise pollutions is a huge stressor on our brains and nerves
- Less sleep due to the stress of being in a violent area and constant noise pollution.
All of these factors affect the brain and its ability to process thoughts clearly.
Poor Children and Schools
Children growing up in poverty have brains that are forced to deal with these issues that affluent children never face. Because poverty hurts, the poor minds are forced to adapt to these unpleasant conditions that may lead to poorer performance in not just schools, but in the work environment as well once they become adults.
In America where schools are funded by the local property taxes, poorer areas end up with worse schools out of the entire country. This is a clear example that poverty hurts, and as a result, both inferior schools and more stressful environments lead to poor kids not learning as well as kids from well off neighborhoods.
Worrying About Money and IQ
Aside from the obvious ways in which poverty might affect the ability to learn, there are other short-term effects poverty can have that can negatively affect one’s ability to think. A group of researchers at the Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy at the University of Warwick in England found that worrying about money can drop a person’s IQ by around 13 points. Because the mind is so preoccupied with figuring out where the next meal will come from, it finds it very hard to allocate resources to the brain to concentrate on other tasks.
Unfortunately, that means that people living in poverty and constantly worrying about money are more likely to make poor decisions because their poverty is a constant distraction and worry.
Scientific Explanation About Being Poor and Mental Dysfunction
Scientific researchers it like this:
“The state of worrying where your next meal is going to come from – you have uncertain income or you have more expenses than you can manage and you have to juggle all these things and constantly being pre-occupied about putting out these fires – takes up so much of your mental bandwidth, that you have less in terms of cognitive capacity to deal with things which may not be as urgent as your immediate emergency, but which are, nevertheless, important for your benefit in the medium or longer term.”
The Positive Side to the Research Study
The upside to this study that researchers found, is that the lowering of the mental IQ is temporary. If the financial stress vanishes, the IQ drop goes away.
The study did not indicate that poor people are actually less intelligent, but simply that poverty is having a short-term negative impact on their intelligence. However, the impact could be ongoing and constant if the poor decision-making caused by the poverty leads to choices that ensure continued poverty. It’s an unfortunate and vicious cycle.