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This review is from: Scarcity: Why having too little means so much (Hardcover)
The authors - economist Mullainathan and psychologist Shafir - make a deceptively simple argument: if you lack something, your mind focusses on that lack both in a productive and an unproductive way.
So, if you lack money, you think about money a lot at the expense of other things you ought to be thinking about, such as your performance at work, or the way you raise your children (reading to them at bedtime, putting in place consistent rules rather than unpredictable ones which are only sporadically enforced) and dressing smartly and preparing for job interviews.
If you lack time, you tend to lurch from one project to another, always behind, never organising yourself and becoming frustrated and possibly ill as a result.
The theory is attractive, because it links us with the rest of mankind. As the authors put it: "This after all is our thesis. If scarcity evokes a unique psychology irrespective of its source, then we are free to treat the varieties of scarcity all the same. If there is a common psychology of scarcity, shouldn't everything we observe about the poor also hold for the busy or for dieters?"...