Marshmallow-ology: Why Wait, When the Better Treat Might Never Arrive? Will economic uncertainty psychological problems of upbringing children you save more — or spend more? The answer may depend on your childhood experience, a new study suggests. The research, published in Psychological Science could help explain why poverty can sometimes be so difficult to escape.
In two different experiments, researchers led by Vladas Griskevicius of the University of Minnesota studied people who had been raised either in relative financial comfort in middle or upper class households or had had some childhood experience with poverty. Another task involved choosing between a guaranteed reward of small amounts of cash or gambling on getting larger, but uncertain monetary rewards later. People who had viewed the nature scenes— no matter what their background— tended to choose later, larger rewards and make safe choices rather than gambling. But among those who had first viewed recession images, the wealthier and poorer participants made diverging choices: the better-off participants increased their tendency to go for long term over short term gain, while the poorer ones chose more immediate rewards and made more risky gambles. It detailed a tale of someone’s lengthy search for lost keys. Participants then performed a task designed to measure the appeal of certain branded luxury items such as Rolex watches, Gucci clothing or accessories, or Porsches.