Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Socioeconomic status as child dictates response to stress as adult

From ScienceDaily: Socioeconomic status as child dictates response to stress as adult:

This one is not surprising but it is important and does not fit in the view of traditional economics. Traditional economics often assumes that people will look decisions similarly and that the past does not matter. Behavioral economists would suggest that past events do influence decisions. This paper by a Griskevicius supports the behavioral school:

"Published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, "The Influence of Mortality and Socioeconomic Status on Risk and Delayed Rewards: A Life History Approach" by Carlson School assistant professor of marketing Vladas Griskevicius found that people respond to feeling threatened differently depending on whether people grew up in relatively resource-scarce or resource-plentiful environments.found those who grew up resource deprived or felt poor were more likely to take risks for immediate rewards when they felt threatened. Subjects who were raised in a more predictable world never worrying about their needs responded to the same stressors by becoming more cautious.....

According to Griskevicius, a prototypical example of the findings is a kid who grows up in a bad neighborhood. "If he hears gunshots down the street, this triggers a 'live fast and die young' psychology. He will feel the urge to get what he can while he can because the future is uncertain." This response is likely related to why poorer individuals purchase more lottery tickets.

The research also suggests that efforts using a "you never know what's going to happen tomorrow" approach to persuade at-risk kids to stay in school or avoid risky behaviors might be ineffective.

"Why should I go to school if I might not be around to see the benefits of my education?"
From ScienceDaily.

Which I think most would agree with. However, if we leave the world of homo sapiens, I have a bit of trouble reconciling this behavior with that in felines. Cats that had spent time "on the street" tend to get fat when they are brought inside. Many veterinarians suggest this is because they are saving as they fear their next meal. To fit the model presented by Griskevicius, the cats must enjoy eating more and thus over eat to their harm. Not sure. But I totally believe that past stressors influence current decisions which was the initial premise.

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