Video: How scarcity affects cognitive function with Dr. Jiaying Zhao

Tunnel vision is an effect of scarcity mindset

Why do the poor stay poor? Why are the busy forgetful? How does a lack of resources affect cognitive function? These are the questions addressed by Dr. Jiaying Zhao in a new video made by Austin Lee, a UBC psychology alumnus.

Dr. Zhao, Canada Research Chair and assistant professor in the department of psychology at UBC, researches the psychological causes and consequences of poverty, in particular scarcity mindset. Visit Zhao’s Behavioural Sustainability Lab website to learn more about this and other research taking place in the lab.

“Scarcity mindset is a vicious cycle,” says Dr. Zhao. “Being poor lowers your cognitive functioning and as a result you make bad choices and you get stuck in poverty even more.”

When Austin Lee first learned about scarcity mindset in Dr. Zhao’s class, the concept stuck with him. This lead him to create an informational video featuring his former professor.

“I want to become the ‘Bill Nye of business psychology’,” says Austin. “I want to show everyday people how social science and business research is important, interesting and useful.” Inspired by the wealth of knowledge he gained during his time as a student in the UBC psychology department, Austin began asking, ‘why don’t more people know about this research?’ While platforms such as TED talks and podcasts makes research more accessible to wider audiences there is no way they can cover all the research that is published. Austin decided to create his YouTube channel WorkForward to address some of these gaps.

Featuring Dr. Jiaying Zhao’s research was an obvious choice for Austin.

“I wanted to make a video on Dr. Zhao’s research because her work around poverty alleviation and sustainability tries to answer the central question, why does psychology matter? I think that psychology is at its best when it’s used to address important challenges in our lives,” says Austin.

Watch Auston Lee’s WorkForward video featuring Dr. Jiaying Zhao below.