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Concept: Keeping up with the Joneses


Married women often undertake a larger share of housework in many countries and yet they do not always perceive the inequitable division of household labor to be “unfair.” Several theories have been proposed to explain the pervasive perception of fairness that is incongruent with the observed inequity in household tasks. These theories include 1) economic resource theory, 2) time constraint theory, 3) gender value theory, and 4) relative deprivation theory. This paper re-examines these theories with newly available data collected on Japanese married women in 2014 in order to achieve a new understanding of the gendered nature of housework. It finds that social comparison with others is a key mechanism that explains women’s perception of fairness. The finding is compatible with relative deprivation theory. In addition to confirming the validity of the theory of relative deprivation, it further uncovers that a woman’s reference groups tend to be people with similar life circumstances rather than non-specific others. The perceived fairness is also found to contribute to the sense of overall happiness. The significant contribution of this paper is to explicate how this seeming contradiction of inequity in the division of housework and the perception of fairness endures.

Concepts: Scientific method, Understanding, Perception, Sense, Explanation, Woman, Relative deprivation, Keeping up with the Joneses


Research has uncovered mixed results regarding the influence of overqualification on employee performance outcomes, suggesting the existence of boundary conditions for such an influence. Using relative deprivation theory (Crosby, 1976) as the primary theoretical basis, in the current research, we examine the moderating role of peer overqualification and provide insights to the questions regarding whether, when, and how overqualification relates to employee performance. We tested the theoretical model with data gathered across three phases over 6 months from 351 individuals and their supervisors in 72 groups. Results showed that when working with peers whose average overqualification level was high, as opposed to low, employees who felt overqualified for their jobs perceived greater task significance and person-group fit, and demonstrated higher levels of in-role and extra-role performance. We discuss theoretical and managerial implications for overqualification at the individual level and within the larger group context. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2014 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Relative deprivation, Keeping up with the Joneses


Despite growing pan-European interest in and awareness of the wide-ranging health and well-being impacts of energy poverty-which is characterised by an inability to secure adequate levels of energy services in the home-the knowledge base is largely British-centric and dominated by single-country studies. In response, this paper investigates the relationship between energy poverty, health and well-being across 32 European countries, using 2012 data from the European Quality of Life Survey. We find an uneven concentration of energy poverty, poor health, and poor well-being across Europe, with Eastern and Central Europe worst affected. At the intersection of energy poverty and health, there is a higher incidence of poor health (both physical and mental) amongst the energy poor populations of most countries, compared to non-energy poor households. Interestingly, we find the largest disparities in health and well-being levels between energy poor and non-energy poor households occur within relatively equal societies, such as Sweden and Slovenia. As well as the unique challenges brought about by rapidly changing energy landscapes in these countries, we also suggest the relative deprivation theory and processes of social comparison hold some value in explaining these findings.

Concepts: Poverty, Europe, Gross domestic product, Eastern Europe, Abuse, Slovenia, Relative deprivation, Keeping up with the Joneses


Seven studies (overall N = 3690) addressed the relation between people’s subjective socioeconomic status (SES) and their aggression levels. Based on relative deprivation theory, we proposed that people low in subjective SES would feel at a disadvantage, which in turn would elicit aggressive responses. In 3 correlational studies, subjective SES was negatively related to trait aggression. Importantly, this relation held when controlling for measures that are related to 1 or both subjective SES and trait aggression, such as the dark tetrad and the Big Five. Four experimental studies then demonstrated that participants in a low status condition were more aggressive than were participants in a high status condition. Compared with a medium-SES condition, participants of low subjective SES were more aggressive rather than participants of high subjective SES being less aggressive. Moreover, low SES increased aggressive behavior toward targets that were the source for participants' experience of disadvantage but also toward neutral targets. Sequential mediation analyses suggest that the experience of disadvantage underlies the effect of subjective SES on aggressive affect, whereas aggressive affect was the proximal determinant of aggressive behavior. Taken together, the present research found comprehensive support for key predictions derived from the theory of relative deprivation of how the perception of low SES is related to the person’s judgments, emotional reactions, and actions. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Psychology, Socioeconomic status, Aggression, Relative deprivation, Keeping up with the Joneses


In this study, we develop and test a model that extends leader-member exchange (LMX) theory to a dual leadership context. Drawing upon relative deprivation theory, we assert that when employees work for 2 leaders, each relationship exists within the context of the other relationship. Thus, the level of alignment or misalignment between the 2 relationships has implications for employees' job satisfaction and voluntary turnover. Employing polynomial regression on time-lagged data gathered from 159 information technology consultants nested in 26 client projects, we found that employee outcomes are affected by the quality of the relationship with both agency and client leaders, such that the degree of alignment between the 2 LMXs explained variance in outcomes beyond that explained by both LMXs. Results also revealed that a lack of alignment in the 2 LMXs led to asymmetric effects on outcomes, such that the relationship with agency leader mattered more than the relationship with one’s client leader. Finally, frequency of communication with the agency leader determined the degree to which agency LMX affected job satisfaction in the low client LMX condition. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2014 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Management, Leadership, Relative deprivation, Keeping up with the Joneses, Leader-Member Exchange Theory


Dramatic social change involves profound transformations that impact an entire group moving forward. Such is the reality for race relations in South Africa. Research has found that most people report a trajectory of group-based relative deprivation that appears to parallel actual historical events. However, a significant subset of respondents reported a trajectory in which the perceived status of their group remained stable despite dramatic social change. The first goal of our research was to assess whether both the historically ‘assumed’ and ‘stable’ group trajectories arise consistently among South Africans (N = 2,989). The second and more important goal was to identify the factors that might account for this dichotomy in perceived trajectory building on both traditional and recent advances in relative deprivation theory as well as on social identity theory. We hypothesized that higher levels of in-group identification would be associated with the historically assumed group trajectory. Results supported this hypothesis. The third goal was to link the different group trajectories with important psychological outcomes such as personal well-being, group self-esteem, and interracial attitudes.

Concepts: Psychology, Africa, Poverty, Sociology, Social sciences, Abuse, Relative deprivation, Keeping up with the Joneses


The decline in perceived happiness within economic prosperity in Chinese society calls for further examination. In this research, we investigate the effect of employment in public sector work units on perceived happiness through the mediation of economic and social status relative deprivations. In the reform era of China, work unit is still an important mechanism maintaining social inequality, and those working in government/Communist Party agencies and public institutions have advantages of getting access to high wage, comprehensive welfare and the manipulation of administrative public power. Such economic and social status advantages are expected to reduce their relative deprivation and further promote their perceived happiness. Using a nationwide survey data conducted in 2006, we find working in public sector can significantly reduce the odds of experiencing economic relative deprivation, which is further contributive to the improvement of subjective wellbeing.

Concepts: Poverty, Sociology, China, Employment, Society, Relative deprivation, Keeping up with the Joneses