'You're worth so much more than that.' photo (c) 2008, DanaK~WaterPenny - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I’ve previously posted here on the blog and also written in my books about research that shows the benefits of having students do simple self-affirmation activities.

In Giving Students “Reflection Cards,” I describe its effect on developing self-control and how I apply it in the classroom.

In Useful Writing Exercise For Helping Students Develop Self-Esteem and in Simple Writing Exercise Said To “Narrow Achievement Gap,” I talk about what studies have found about its effect on student academic achievement and, again, how I apply it in my classroom.

Today, another study was released demonstrating the positive impact of these kinds of activities. Though the headline on the story is a bit of hyperbole (saying it can “overcome poverty” is bit overstated — I think that omits a broader perspective on inequality in society), it’s good to see proof reinforced.

Here’s a useful excerpt from the article:

Zhao and co-authors Eldar Shafir of Princeton University and Crystal Hall of University of Washington theorize that self-affirmation alleviates the mentally overwhelming stigma and cognitive threats of poverty, which can impair reasoning, cause bad decisions and perpetuate financial woes.

This study builds on previous research by Zhao and colleagues from Princeton, Harvard and University of Warwick, which found that poverty consumes so much mental energy that those in poor circumstances have little remaining brainpower to concentrate on other areas of life.

As a result, less “mental bandwidth” remains for education, training, time-management, assistance programs and other steps that could help break out of the cycles of poverty.