Hazel Markus, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Current Research and Scholarly Interests
Personal website: www.catherinethomas.org
Tackling psychosocial and capital constraints to alleviate poverty.
Many policies attempt to help extremely poor households build sustainable sources of income. Although economic interventions have predominated historically1,2, psychosocial support has attracted substantial interest3-5, particularly for its potential cost-effectiveness. Recent evidence has shown that multi-faceted 'graduation' programmes can succeed in generating sustained changes6,7. Here we show that a multi-faceted intervention can open pathways out of extreme poverty by relaxing capital and psychosocial constraints. We conducted a four-arm randomized evaluation among extremely poor female beneficiaries already enrolled in a national cash transfer government programme in Niger. The three treatment arms included group savings promotion, coaching and entrepreneurship training, and then added either a lump-sum cash grant, psychosocial interventions, or both the cash grant and psychosocial interventions. All three arms generated positive effects on economic outcomes and psychosocial well-being, but there were notable differences in the pathways and the timing of effects. Overall, the arms with psychosocial interventions were the most cost-effective, highlighting the value of including well-designed psychosocial components in government-led multi-faceted interventions for the extreme poor.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-022-04647-8
View details for PubMedID 35477764
- Pathways out of Extreme Poverty: Tackling psychosocial and capital constraints with a multi-faceted social protection program in Niger World Bank. Washington D.C. . 2021 ; Policy Research Working Paper (9562):
Toward a science of delivering aid with dignity: Experimental evidence and local forecasts from Kenya.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
How can governments and nonprofits design aid programs that afford dignity and facilitate beneficial outcomes for recipients? We conceptualize dignity as a state that manifests when the stigma associated with receiving aid is countered and recipients are empowered, both in culturally resonant ways. Yet materials from the largest cash transfer programs in Africa predominantly characterize recipients as needy and vulnerable. Three studies examined the causal effects of alternative aid narratives on cash transfer recipients and donors. In study 1, residents of low-income settlements in Nairobi, Kenya (N = 565) received cash-based aid accompanied by a randomly assigned narrative: the default deficit-focused "Poverty Alleviation" narrative, an "Individual Empowerment" narrative, or a "Community Empowerment" narrative. They then chose whether to spend time building business skills or watching leisure videos. Both empowerment narratives improved self-efficacy and anticipated social mobility, but only the "Community Empowerment" narrative significantly motivated recipients' choice to build skills and reduced stigma. Given the diverse settings in which aid is delivered, how can organizations quickly identify effective narratives in a context? We asked recipients to predict which narrative would best motivate skill-building in their community. In study 2, this "local forecasting" methodology outperformed participant evaluations and experimental pilots in accurately ranking treatments. Finally, study 3 confirmed that the narrative most effective for recipients did not undermine donors' willingness to contribute to the program. Together these studies show that responding to recipients' psychological and sociocultural realities in the design of aid can afford recipients dignity and help realize aid's potential.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1917046117
View details for PubMedID 32581121
Measuring self-efficacy, executive function, and temporal discounting in Kenya
BEHAVIOUR RESEARCH AND THERAPY
2018; 101: 30–45
Developing countries have low adherence to medical regimens like water chlorination or antenatal and postnatal care, contributing to high infant and child mortality rates. We hypothesize that high levels of stress affect adherence through temporal discounting, self-efficacy, and executive control. Measurement of these constructs in developing countries requires adaptation of existing measures. In the current study, we adapt psychological scales and behavioral tasks, measuring each of these three constructs, for use among adults in Kenya. We translated and back-translated each measure to Kiswahili and conducted cognitive interviewing to establish cultural acceptability, refined existing behavioral tasks, and developed new ones. Then, in a laboratory session lasting 3 h, participants (N=511) completed the adapted psychological inventories and behavioral tasks. We report the psychometric properties of these measures. We find relatively low reliability and poor correlational evidence between psychological scales and behavioral tasks measuring the same construct, highlighting the challenges of adapting measures across cultures, and suggesting that assays within the same domain may tap distinct underlying processes.
View details for PubMedID 29249452