Psychological, social and cognitive resources and the mental wellbeing of the poor

PLoS One. 2021 Oct 12;16(10):e0258417. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0258417. eCollection 2021.


Our study takes advantage of unique data to quantify deficits in the psychosocial and cognitive resources of an extremely vulnerable subpopulation-those experiencing housing vulnerability-in an advanced, high-income country (Australia). Groups such as these are often impossible to study using nationally representative data sources because they make up a small share of the overall population. We show that those experiencing housing vulnerability sleep less well, have more limited cognitive functioning, and less social capital than do those in the general population. They are also less emotionally stable, less conscientious, more external, and more risk tolerant. Collectively, these deficits in psychosocial and cognitive resources account for between 24-42% of their reduced life satisfaction and their increased mental distress and loneliness. These traits also account for a large proportion of the gap in mental wellbeing across different levels of housing vulnerability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Loneliness / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Poverty / psychology*
  • Psychological Distress*
  • Sleep
  • Social Capital

Grants and funding

This research received financial support from the Australian Research Council through a Discovery Project Grant (DP140102614) and the Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course (CE140100027).