Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir was reviewed by The Economist here.
People can succumb to a “scarcity mindset” when they feel they have too few friends, time or calories, as well as too little money.
This mindset has benefits because it helps you focus on pressing needs and gives a better sense of the value of a dollar, minute, calorie or smile. If you are lonely you are attuned to deciphering expressions of emotion; if you are poor you have a better grasp of costs.
But this scarcity mindset has drawbacks which can be self perpetuating by shortening your horizons and narrowing your perspective, which reduce creativity, brainpower and enthusiasm. Feeling poor or friendlessness lowers a person’s IQ by as much as a night without sleep.
Scarcity creates a mindset that perpetuates scarcity by making people slower witted and weaker willed. In developing countries too many of the poor neglect to weed their crops, vaccinate their children, wash their hands, treat their water, take their pills or eat properly when pregnant. Ironically we (in “developed” countries) suffer the same problem: When there is so much to do we don’t put tools away properly (so they waste) and we grab chocolate and slump in front of the TV “exhausted” instead of grabbing an apple and going for a walk or jog. So it seems you need enough to have enough, but if you expect more than enough, you’ll never have enough and will make bad choices.