Thursday, October 15, 2015

Money changes poor people's personalities

Personality traits are so interesting to me. Some people find them to be so rigid -- "Oh, I always do that..." or "Scorpios are just like that." Identity is such an interesting topic to me right now. I have recently become obsessed with this idea of an absolute diva of an opera singer, except she was born in 300 BC in Africa before opera was invented and possibly even before the advent of agriculture in her area, so obviously if she excels at anything, it's hunting/gathering. My religion (Mormonism) has a particularly interesting context for these identity mind puzzles, because we believe that everyone existed before this world and had an entire other life before this existence, which makes accidents of fate seem especially problematic in terms of being emblematic of identity. Another realization I had recently was how easily I slip into the "reality" of a dream. I am only rarely aware that I am actually in a dream. Otherwise, I am 100% committed to my new life as fill-in-the-blank dream scenario, as if that was and has always been the only life I ever experienced. That seems crazy to me, and sort of disloyal to my current reality, particularly since it's so easy and my mind is so ready to do it.

Along those lines of what is identity and how malleable our personality traits can be, this Washington Post article talks about a natural experiment in which people at, below, or around the poverty line were given additional money, and the resulting impact on the children in those families:

Twenty years ago, a group of researchers began tracking the personalities of 1,420 low income children in North Carolina. At the time, the goal was simple: to observe the mental conditions of kids living in rural America. But then a serendipitous thing happened.

Four years into The Great Smoky Mountains Study of Youth, the families of roughly a quarter of the children saw a dramatic and unexpected increase in annual income. They were members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and a casino had just been built on the reservation. From that point on every tribal citizen earned a share of the profits, meaning about an extra $4,000 a year per capita.

For these families, the extra padding was a blessing, enough to boost household incomes by almost 20 percent on average. But for the fields of psychology, sociology and economics, it has been a gold mine, too. The sudden change in fortunes has offered a rare glimpse into the subtle but important ways in which money can alter a child’s life. The dataset is so rich that researchers continue to study it to this day.

The impact on the children's personalities was actually quite strong:

Not only did the extra income appear to lower the instance of behavioral and emotional disorders among the children, but, perhaps even more important, it also boosted two key personality traits that tend to go hand in hand with long-term positive life outcomes.

The first is conscientiousness. People who lack it tend to lie, break rules and have trouble paying attention. The second is agreeableness, which leads to a comfort around people and aptness for teamwork. And both are strongly correlated with various forms of later life success and happiness.

The researchers also observed a slight uptick in neuroticism, which, they explained, is a good sign. Neuroticism is generally considered to be a positive trait so long as one does not have too much of it.
Remarkably, the change was the most pronounced in the children who were the most deficient. "This actually reduces inequality with respect to personality traits," said Akee. "On average, everyone is benefiting, but in particular it's helping the people who need it the most."

Why? They're still not sure, but also correlated was a better relationship between spouses, better relationship between parents and children, and less alcohol consumption.

What hope for those past childhood age?

For the most part, scientists agree that the window for improvement in a child's cognitive abilities is short-lived. By the age of about 8, children have set themselves on a path, Akee said. What comes next happens, more or less, within the confines of the limits that were created in their early years.

One's personality, on the other hand, is malleable well into adolescence. What's more, the changes tend to be fairly permanent.

"All of the evidence points to the idea if they change in the teenage years, they will stay changed forever," said Akee. "In this case, the kids will likely maintain a different level of conscientiousness and agreeableness for life."

Experts have known about the power of intervention for some time. A lot of previous research has shown that educational interventions can have sizable impacts on personality traits and, in turn, life outcomes. But rarely, if ever before, have researchers been able to observe the impact of a change in income across such a large group.

I read a lot of stuff that suggests that adults with childhood trauma or other less than ideal childhood circumstances should stop whining, pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and otherwise become a normal and contributing member of society. I'm sure improvement is always possible, but I know for a fact that some (most?) simply do not have the capacity to do anything of the sort, and due to circumstances that were and still remain totally beyond their control. 


  1. I'm kinda baffled by how the first part of the posting correlates with the
    second half of the posting. If M.E. is slipping back into other "incarnations,"
    I'm glad she is materially set. The money will be a buffer of protection
    around her.
    I don't agree with the second part of the posting. Merely giving people money
    DOES NOT reform their nature. We can see this with lottery winners and
    welfare collectors. If anything, it exaberbates their disagreeable behaviour.
    If a person believes they are "entitled" because of their "victim" status, and the
    largess is not forthcoming,they might explode, like the mass shooters.
    It IS true that if you take a person from an improvished and dangerous
    enviornment, and provide them with an education they might be reformed, but
    there are always "bad seeds" in all races, genders, and classes who can't be

  2. The changes money has on rich people are far more revealing. The only thing that really can determine somebodys real character is WEALTH. Hard truth: most people cannot handle the illusion of money, they turn into vampires or belligerent psychopaths. They start crying when they "drop logs". Perhaps only neutral ("good") socios can handle money with indifference? The bad ones will get even crazier & self-destruct by drowning in a plate mashed potatoes mixed with caviar. Rabies can cause foaming at the mouth, but the result of "excessive wealth" is often similar..

  3. Scorpio hoards wealth. They are very good at doing just that. But their heart is not in it. They do it for "appearance" (do not confuse with vanity). They know that alley-vinos attract bums & visible wealth attracts cash. Simple as that. This is the reason why so many Scorpios "made it" in the US.

  4. Dear M.E.
    I have tiny little gnats flying around my touch sensative computer screen,
    so I lost the content of the letter I was attempting to post but know this:
    You are one of the most marvelous women around these days! Don't lose faith!
    You ARE NOT TRAPPED in "dull" limbo. You are loved and appreciated!
    Your circle of friends and family (Many years in the making) will NEVER
    desert you! Google "You're Too Good To Be True," by Frankie Valley.

    1. I am imagining M.E. responding in this insightful and humorous (once in a while, that is) style as she usually does (usually insightful, that is):

      Leeloo: "Wind blows, fire burns, rain falls...Big ba-da boom!"

      "You no trouble. Me...Fifth Element...supreme protect you."

    2. Since I have not posted in a while, I actually meant to post my comment above as "Gardel."

      "Multipass!" :)

  5. It's outrageous and unacceptable that some of M.E.'s former posters,
    have ceased posting. There's no excuse for it.
    In this day of smart phones, people can post at least post on paragraph a day.
    M.E. might fear that people are going to forget about her and not show interest.
    I know there will always be people in M.E.'s "local orbit," that will love and care
    for her. If M.E. hopes to change the world, it's an immeadiate lost cause.
    When people think "Sociopath" they think Philip Chism. A lanky 14 year old
    who raped, slit his beautiful teacher's throat, and shoved a 3ft tree branch up her
    vagina. Don't expect people to change their opinions. A female sociopath-if she
    is pretty-will garner more sympathy. All I ask is that you don't forget about
    M.E., and never leave her with any doubt she is loved.
    BTW, I saw a very interesting fictional film about a female sociopath called
    "Gone Girl" (2014) it was a "take off" on the Scott Peterson case. The woman
    who place Nancy Grace does a spot on interputation. I'm surprised most people
    missed this one.

  6. "Another realization I had recently was how easily I slip into the "reality" of a dream."

    And the dream within the dream. . . believing in a past life also colors one's identity, the present dream of 'me.' The puzzle of identity appears to me like a Russian doll: I keep discovering one after the other. There are many parts that make up being human and most are invisible. The more I dig the more it seems that what I believe about myself is who I am and live. So I take great care before embracing any belief. Does the belief foster me AND others emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually? If not I reject absorbing it into my being. Because that's not who I want to be. Being who I want to be is the only power I have, since changing others is impossible and ruling others doesn't interest me.

    About money altering human behavior: Being a vital resource that must be so. (Unless you live in the jungle where there is none.)

    Too little money and people suffer in ways that obviously impacts their mental, emotional and physical health. Optimal growth requires proper nutrients. The benefit of helping those at the bottom is that the whole of society is lifted. Healthier people tend not to hurt others; the cycle of violence loses steam. Healthy people are generally happy, agreeable, productive and conscientious. So it seems to me.

    Too much money often creates a sense of entitlement, sometimes even a lethal sense of superiority. Flooded with cash, one's identity swells with a god-like feeling, and the rest be damned. There's a reason that all religions teach that hoarding resources that deprives others of life and limb is bad for the soul.

    Mr. Hyde

  7. I see it as "Inception."

    "Time" is the architect of all things. It creates possibilities.

  8. Elements of inception are definitely at play.

    Time creates possibilities but is also cyclic. What goes round comes around. Life energy regenerates and transforms. On the other hand, plant an oak and you basically get an oak, so long as it's adequately nourished. If not, life tends to find its wayward way. It will bend and twist, accommodating what material it has to work with.


    Me. Hyde

    1. There is truth in your thoughts, Mr. Hyde. Time is also sprawling or bi-tiered, so to "coin." I believe in its duality of manifestation or purpose as opposed to multiple instances or manifestations. It creates in that sense, but, of course, opinions vary.

      And, yes, what goes around comes around. Sometimes, it comes around like a package that has been marked undeliverable for some time. I suppose that time and life, as it were, will always lead all of us to the right destination.


    2. Your comment amused me and is timely. The 'marked undeliverable' package I've been waiting for has finally arrived.

      You must be psychic.

      Mr. Hyde

    3. I liked to untangle chains when I was a child. I had thin, busy fingers, and I never gave up. Perhaps there was a strange component to it.

      A palm reader once told me that in another life, I was someone whom I know in this life. Isn't that peculiar, Mr. Hyde?

    4. Parnasse,

      Yes. It's peculiar. Reminds me of children in Tibet who claim certain memories . . . which lead to them becoming the Enlightened One.

      Busy fingers weave. ;) And the I Ching advises, Perseverance furthers. Always.

      As Elvis might say, Oh yeah.

      Who was it that said all fiction must contain something strange in order to be filled with life?

      John Gardener. Author of Grendel.

      Mr. Hyde

    5. Your Grendel thoughts remind me of “Jabberwock, Through the Looking-Glass.” The reason he is so different has to do with Carroll’s depiction of him using blends or "portmanteaus." He invented new words and phrases to create a picture of…. Well, what do you suppose that picture is, Mr. Hyde?

      We perceive things that we cannot see in a particular, characteristic way. In this work, as the lights fade out, or as they are turned off, we turn around to sense the ravenous, bewildering monster that pants nearby. This gives a complementing, renewable meaning to Gardner’s thoughts wherein “fiction must contain something strange to be filled with life.”

      That’s the Jabberwocky. He has been imagined as “the ensnaring snowman,” making his way and “whiffling through the tulgey wood.” For instance, consider the phrase “and the mome raths outgrabe.” What do you think that he means to tell us? Linguistically, that is.

    6. "What did he mean to tell us?"

      That spanillious ruminicks tunnel.wurmholes in our perception.

      Mirroring nonsense isn't my strong suit till after five. )

      What does it mean to you?

      Mr. Hyde

    7. I smiled as I read your reply, Mr. Hyde.

      Carroll has cordially offered a literal English translation of the passage, which, I believe, was quite thoughtful of him:

      “It was evening, and the smooth active badgers were scratching and boring holes in the hill-side: all unhappy were the parrots; and the grave turtles squeaked out. There were probably sun-dials on the top of the hill, and the ‘borogoves’ were afraid that their nests would be undermined. The hill was probably full of the nests of ‘raths,’ which ran out, squeaking with fear, on hearing the ‘toves’ scratching outside. This is an obscure, but deeply-affecting, relic of ancient poetry.”

      Then, there is this particular interpretation:

      "And then 'mome raths'? If I'm not giving you too much trouble."

      "…but 'mome' I'm not certain about….”

      "And what does 'outgrabe' mean?"

      "Well, 'outgribing' is something between bellowing and whistling, with a kind of sneeze in the middle: however, you'll hear it done, maybe down in the wood yonder and when you've once heard it, you'll be ‘quite’ content. Who's been repeating all that ‘hard’ stuff to you?"

      I believe that making out the meaning is a pure matter of intelligent guesswork. By portraying Jabberwocky as a “quest,” inserted within a dream, Carroll emphasized the power of ambiguity, or of Nonsense disguised as Sense.

    8. Very precise rendering, Parnasse.

      Very interesting. Ambiguity and Nonsense. Disguised as Sense. I like that.

      Forgive me for not making further comment. Errands to run before I'm flooded with house guests.

      Mr. Hyde

    9. Thank you, Mr. Hyde. Some might think of Noah’s Ark as “Ambiguity and Nonsense disguised as Sense.” :) Two of a kind.

    10. I'm tardy to your rely, Parnasse. I know you understand.

      Noah's ark looms large in my writing at present. ;) Two of a kind did, after all, fill the ark with perfect balance and regeneration, resilience and harmony. The power of creation in the midst of disaster.

      Kindred souls meet at every stage along the way. :))

      Mr. Hyde

  9. As for me money just opens and strengthens hidden and traits of the personality. It is just a tool that gives you an opportunity to do… good things or bad things. HR managers and physiologists can do mostly the same while interviewing you; they can see your hidden traits as I read on

  10. Money has the power to change the mentality as well as attitude of people. The person may not behave as same as how he/she behaved when he/she was poor. This article gives a clear picture of all the details regarding this. Thanks for sharing the best article!

    1. A study I read said that once people's basic needs are met, more money does not produce happiness, in fact sometimes the opposite: People with money can never truly trust other people's motives in regards to friendship and romance. The rich, like celebrities, often feel isolated, cut off from the rest of humanity. Which also makes them paranoid.

      Many a Lotto winner has found misery at the end of the rainbow.

      Mr. Hyde

  11. Agree money changes people. Just take any of the numerous notorious jackpot winners. that was a story of "from rags to richer and back there again". Most of them became apathetic to life.


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