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Vulnerable Communities / Publication Abstract

Poverty, consumption, and counterintuitive behavior

Aug 12, 2019

Andrew Bryant, Ronald Paul Hill

Vulnerable Communities
Health & Nutrition


The consumer behavior field has a long history of looking at impoverished persons with low socioeconomic status, as well as the circumstances within which they seek, acquire, and use goods and services. Over time, these investigations have moved from studies of domestic or US subpopulations to global investigations at the base-of-the-pyramid. The underlying premise is that the poor desire the same cornucopia of goods and services as more affluent counterparts, seeking alternative ways to enter their material worlds. However, studies have suggested that consumers who live in relative poverty, or below their societal consumption adequacy baseline, may think and behave differently than other, more affluent consumers. To consider one possible example, we examine the relative healthfulness of food choices by consumers in a participant-subject pool compared to individuals living in an impoverished community. For another comparison, a group of participants from the same pool was also selected to represent lower-income individuals. The results show major differences among them, revealing insights about impoverished consumers and the usefulness of sampling frames to study the poor.

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