SFU research uses simulation game to alter beliefs about poverty

March 16, 2020

In advancing research to tackle the problem of burgeoning global economic inequality, researchers at Simon Fraser University used a poverty simulation game called SPENT to foster greater understanding of what causes poverty and economic inequality.

In research published in the scientific journal Nature Human Behaviour today, a group of researchers, including former SFU PhD student Dylan Wiwad and Lara Aknin, an SFU distinguished professor in the department of psychology, share findings from a five-part global study on people's beliefs about poverty and economic inequality.

Study 1 used pre-existing data from the World Values survey - based on about 30,000 participants - while the researchers collected further data from about 2,400 more participants for the remaining studies.

In all, the studies used data from 34 countries. The last two studies provide some initial evidence that using a relatively easy, cost-effective, and "low-touch" intervention - the 10-minute poverty simulation game called SPENT - can foster lasting and meaningful change in beliefs about poverty and reduce support for economic inequality, says Wiwad, who conducted the study as part of his PhD dissertation at SFU.

Wiwad is currently a post-doctoral scholar at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

The researchers invited about 600 students to a laboratory setting to play the game and divided them into two groups. One group was asked to take part in a poverty simulation experience, where they live a month in the life of an impoverished person making daily financial decisions.

In following up with participants over the next few months, the researchers found that playing SPENT helped develop stronger recognition of the situational causes of poverty and lowers support for economic inequality even five months after playing the game.

"How people understand the causes of poverty influences their willingness to address inequality and help the poor," says Aknin.

She adds that the final two studies also show that these interventions are scalable and can be used across classrooms in the province or Canada by teachers.

"Our dream is to partner with the Vancouver School Board and classrooms around the city to investigate if we see similar long-lasting results using these interventions during these impressionable periods."
-end-
Photos: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmLX9tqp

Both Wiwad and Aknin are available to speak to the research. To get in touch with them, please contact:

Shradhha Sharma, University Communications and Marketing, 778.782.3210, shradhha_sharma@sfu.ca

Dylan Wiwad, DRRC Postdoctoral Scholar, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, dylan.wiwad@kellogg.northwestern.edu

Prof. Lara Aknin, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Psychology, lara_aknin@sfu.ca

Simon Fraser University

Related Poverty Articles from Brightsurf:

Advancing the accurate tracking of energy poverty
IIASA researchers have developed a novel measurement framework to track energy poverty that better aligns with the services people lack rather than capturing the mere absence of physical connections to a source of electricity.

If you're poor, poverty is an environmental issue
A survey from Cornell researchers -- conducted among more than 1,100 US residents -- found that there were, in fact, demographic differences in how people viewed environmental issues, with racial and ethnic minorities and lower-income people more likely to consider human factors such as racism and poverty as environmental, in addition to more ecological issues like toxic fumes from factories or car exhaust.

Poverty associated with suicide risk in children and adolescents
Between 2007 to 2016, nearly 21,000 children ages 5-19 years old died by suicide.

New index maps relationships between poverty and accessibility in Brazil
Poor transportation availability can result in poor access to health care and employment, hence reinforcing the cycle of poverty and concerning health outcomes such as low life expectancy and high child mortality in rural Brazil.

Repeated periods of poverty accelerate the ageing process
People who have found themselves below the relative poverty threshold four or more times in their adult life age significantly earlier than others.

Poverty as disease trap
The realities of subsistence living in a region of Senegal hard hit by schistosomiasis make reinfection likely, despite mass drug administration.

Persistent poverty affects one in five UK children
Persistent poverty affects one in five children in the UK, and is associated with poor physical and mental health in early adolescence, suggests research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Poverty leaves a mark on our genes
In this study, researchers found evidence that poverty can become embedded across wide swaths of the genome.

Satellite images reveal global poverty
How far have we come in achieving the UN's sustainable development goals that we are committed to nationally and internationally?

Lack of paid sick leave increases poverty
A new study has quantified, for the first time, the relationship between lack of paid sick leave and poverty in the US.

Read More: Poverty News and Poverty Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.