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Socio-Economic Environment and Human PsychologySocial, Ecological, and Cultural Perspectives$
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Ayse K. Üskül and Shigehiro Oishi

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190492908

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190492908.001.0001

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Decision-Making Up Against the Wall

Decision-Making Up Against the Wall

A Framework for Understanding the Behavioral Dimension of Low Socio-Economic Status

(p.105) Chapter 5 Decision-Making Up Against the Wall
Socio-Economic Environment and Human Psychology

Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides an overview of research on the behavioral dimension of low socioeconomic status and a set of theoretical and empirical principles for better understanding it. In particular, the chapter focuses on those behaviors that are claimed to exacerbate a situation of poverty or deprivation, such as poor academic performance, myopic financial decisions, early child-bearing, consumption of unhealthy foods, and engaging in unhealthy lifestyle habits. Though such behavioral patterns have been used to make claims as to the defective values or motives of the poor, the chapter argues that studying them rigorously, aided by the experimental method, leads to a more nuanced and accurate picture, in which psychology is systematically shaped by socioeconomic position. After reviewing evidence from education, public health, and behavioral economics concerning the behavioral dimension of low socioeconomic status, the chapter suggests an organizing set of mechanisms that might structure a comprehensive explanatory account of it.

Keywords:   low socioeconomic status, poverty, deprivation, behavior, empirical principles

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