How poverty affects people's decision-making processes

Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington and Jessica Rea

As poverty continues to be a feature of the social and economic landscape in the United Kingdom, attention is turning towards the potentially damaging role played by individual decisions made in low-income contexts.

This report summarises the most recent evidence on the relationship between socioeconomic status and the psychological, social and cultural processes that underpin decision-making, it highlights:

  • the results of 15 systematic reviews of recent evidence on the relationship between socioeconomic status and psychological, social and cultural processes underpinning decision-making;
  • insights on the impact of poverty on thinking, behaviour patterns, facing challenges and engaging with the social world;
  • a discussion of what these relationships mean for decision-making by those living in or near poverty;
  • how decision-making in contexts of poverty serves important immediate functions, even if it has negative consequences for long-term outcomes; and
  • implications for interventions designed to empower those living in poverty to make decisions that enhance their long-term well-being.
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