SpeechPresentation on Article Review
SpeechPresentation on Article Review
In his article, The Mental Strain of Making Do With Less,Sendhil Mullainathan proffers an analysis on how dieting makes peopleweigh less and also reduces their mental capacity. In fact,Mullainathan (2013) postulates that people who focus on dieting sohard preserve less information than non-dieters. However, the authordoes not speak against healthy eating, but rather shows that the morepressure or stressors people stack on, the harder it is to makebalanced and wise decisions. Mullainathan’s inkling points to themental pressure that result from inadequacy-the intellectual calculusworkers utilize to find free time on a hectic day farmers need totrack every dollar, and dieters withstand while calorie counting. Thearticle is about the agonizing undulations of contemplating choicesor options, vacillating over choices and the way hesitant decisionstake its toll on the poor. Most people argue that the poor are notcapable of making wise and balanced decisions, but the author opinesthat the poor are intrinsically capable of making balanced and goodchoices like the rich, only the problem is the mental strain paucityinflicts on their decisions. Thus, people struggling with poverty anddieting often have little intelligence left for anything else leavingthem predisposed to bad decisions
Questionsraised and the highlights of the article
Mullainathan associates the way people react to scarcity fromdeliberate calorie constraint to the affliction of outright paucity.It is imperative to note that Mullainathan focuses on poverty,dieting, and the way poverty and dieting consume mental energy thatpeople struggling with poverty and dieting often have littleintelligence left for anything else leaving them predisposed to baddecisions. The provided research on the decision-making of farmersbefore and after harvest shows that the situation of the farmersrather than their individuality put a strain on their mentalintelligence. On the other hand, the calorie deprivation insightshows that dieters have higher unprompted self-generated cravings andincreased trade-offs than non-dieters do. It is against this backdropthat Mullainathan raises numerous questions
Why dieting makes one dumber? Mullainathan provides a comprehensive and insightful assessment of why dieting makes people dumber, by asserting that dieting makes people focus more on the dieting process and aspects, forces trade-offs and increases distractions. Moreover, Mullainathan asserts, “Many diets require constant calculations to determine calorie counts. All this clogs up the brain,” which means that dieting reduces bandwidth and leads to physiological and psychological effects.
What is the correlation between scarcity and decreased bandwidth or I.Q? Mullainathan postulates that paucity imposes a mental strain on the poor, for example, sugarcane farmers in India have poor and rich periods in their life, before and after harvest and during their poor periods, their mental functions are less than during the rich periods. In elucidating the question, the author contends that being deprived requires mental energy that the poor are susceptible to make bad decisions and mistakes than people with bigger financial cushions, a notion supported in Mani, Mullainathan, Shafir, and Zhao (2013) works.
Detailsof research experiments and studies
In explaininghow the scarcity mentality consumes mental bandwidth, Mullainathanprovides several studies on poverty and dieting. Mullainathan (2013)tells the readers to imagine attending a meeting where someone bringsa plate of cookie. He goes further and asserts that some minutes intothe meeting the reader will not have processed half of thediscussion since half the mind was conjuring ideas on the cookies.However, even without the presence of a cookie, a dieter will invoketheir cookies as they have higher impulsive self-generated yearnings.Dieters also require endless calculations to define calorie intakes,which usually clog the brain. Moreover, Mullainathan provides insightinto a research conducted to test the reaction of dieters andnon-dieters to eating a bar of chocolate. Eating the bar enlarged thebandwidth gap between non-dieters and dieters since dieters startedconjecturing why they ate the bar or how they will make up for theingested calories. In another experiment to tax people’s bandwidth,Mullainathan shows how people made a choice between a cake and afruit salad. Before selecting their choice, the researchers asked theparticipants to remember a 7-digit or a 2-digit number. People withless bandwidth chose a cake in fact, they were 50% more likely toselect a cake than the others were which shows that mental conditionsmake it hard for people to diet. The article also providesexploration on a study focused on sugarcane farmers and theirsusceptibility to mental strain before harvest time. The articleexplains that farmers are paid yearly and once they are paid theyhave enough cash, but unfortunately the money runs out before thenext payment during which time, they are likely to pawn their items.Mullainathan explains that it is important to compare the farmers tothemselves than to rich farmers since the assessment addressesbinding concerns that variances in mental tests replicate variancesin test familiarity and culture. The research assessed farmers’cognitive function and found out that during pre-harvest I.Q. reducedby about 9 to 10 points. Further, the author gives the examples ofthe Atkins diet and qualification of students to college in America.
Findings,explanations, and reflection
Poverty anddieting make people dumber because their strain people’sintelligence and consumes their mental bandwidth. Instead of thebrainpower going into planning, problem-solving, strategicapproaches, and important decision-making, the brainpower goes intotrivial concerns. People become absorbed by obsessions that enforceongoing mental insufficiencies and underpin self-defeating actions(Mani et al., 2013 Mullainathan, 2013 Shah, Mullainathan, &Shafir, 2012). Mullainathan findings on poverty show that the poorare neither perfectly rational nor poor in decision-making, butrather the notion of scarcity makes them biased and irrational duringinstances of scarcity. Some scholars claim that poor people areperfectly cogent and make reasonable cost-benefit judgments based ontheir situations while others claim that the culture of paucityforces the poor to make poor plans and decisions (Mullainathan, 2013Shah et al., 2012 Schilbach, Schofield, & Mullainathan, 2016).However, Mullainathan contends that poor people make rational andirrational decisions based on their situations, but when they makemistakes in the context of scarcity, the implications are more severethan when done in the context of comfort. A particular mindsetemerges during scarcity, and this mindset leads to bad results.Moreover, Mullainathan explains that people have limited intellectualbandwidth and space thus, when they focus heavily on one thing, themind to devote to other things decreases.
It is imperativeto note that the mental bandwidth for a human is finite, for example,when one is lost in concentration trying to resolve a predicament,they are more likely to neglect other tasks. The cognitive capacityis scarce, which explains why, for instance, people who use theirsmartphones while driving perform worse as drivers, or why dietersperform worse on spatial and logical reasoning. The findings ofMullainathan studies and experiments support other studies by (Maniet al., 2013 Shah et al., 2012 Schilbach et al., 2016) and undercutthe notion that the poor through intrinsic weakness are accountablefor their poverty or that they need to lift themselves. The findingsshow that the context and realism of poverty make it harder for thepoor to perform essential life skills since being deprived meanscoping with not only the deficit of money but also the concomitantshortfall of cognitive resources. The research on sugarcane farmersshow that people with the intellectual strain of poverty suffer adrop in their IQ, but the drop is only prevalent when the situationpersist, which means cognitive capacities return once the burden ofscarcity disappears.
Mullainathanprovides a profound insight especially by supporting the profferedinformation with evidence from studies and experiment. Although thearticle is limited to data and statistics, the evidence from studiesis essential to appeal to the reader, as well as, support the offeredsupposition. Moreover, the illustration of two parallel but differentexamples: analysis on dieting and poverty makes the assessmentcredible. The author provides numerous studies, which show again andagain how dieting, reduces mental bandwidth and ultimately lowers IQ.Dieting makes people dumber because the endless thoughts of “shouldI eat, how will I make up for the ingested calorie, should I not havethat cookie, or what is the correct dieting mechanism” take up thetreasurable mental capacity. Just like poor people, dieters haveextemporaneous self-engendered yearnings where they fixate on trivialthings such as what or what not to eat. Thus, the article does notdemonize poverty or dieting, but it endeavors to show how thoughts ontrivial things reduce people’s mental capacity and lowers their IQ.It is significant to structure dieting on a framework that requiresfewer thoughts or helping the poor gain financial stability in abalanced manner to help free up their intellectual resources.
Mani, A., Mullainathan, S., Shafir, E., & Zhao, J. (2013).Poverty impedes cognitive function. Science, 341(6149),976-980.
Mullainathan, S. (2013). The mental strain of making do withless. The New York Times [Online Edition]. Retrieved 5June 2016 fromhttp://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/business/the-mental-strain-of-making-d.
Schilbach, F., Schofield, H., & Mullainathan, S. (2016). ThePsychological lives of the poor. The American EconomicReview, 106(5), 435-440.
Shah, A., Mullainathan, S., & Shafir, E. (2012). Someconsequences of having too little. Science, 338, 682–685