Alumna’s Research Examines Impact of Poverty on Cognition

by Hannah Sarco

Does poverty really impede cognitive function? Recent research conducted by alumna Virginia Graves investigates this question.

As a part of her master’s thesis for the International & Development Economics program, Graves was offered an opportunity to work on the USAID-funded project in Tanzania. With essential guidance and support, Graves was able to design and execute a field experiment involving approximately 100 fishers in two different regions of the country.

According to Graves, much of current published literature suggests that living in poverty narrows an individual's focus specifically to the scarcities in his/her life.

I've always been interested in decision making and the intersection of economics and psychology, so my research in Tanzania was an attempt to replicate an existing study which looks at the impacts of poverty on cognition.

When asked how USF offered an advantage in pursuing individual research goals, Graves replied, "The MS IDEC program is unique in that it approaches development economics from an applied, practical side and makes independent research a graduation requirement. When I was researching graduate programs, this really stuck out to me and was what made me ultimately choose USF."

Learn more about research from IDEC students »