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Concept: Relative deprivation


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


Group aggression is an important concern for societies around the world. The field of intergroup relations, a sub-field of social-psychology, offers critical insight into the emergence of group conflict and aggression. This review examines the most influential theoretical frameworks from the field of intergroup relations, namely realistic conflict theory, relative deprivation theory, social identity theory, social dominance theory, and deindividuation theory. Associated empirical findings regarding groups synonymous with aggression, such as street gangs, hate groups, rebel and insurgent groups, and terrorist organizations, are explored. This review thus provides a critical overview of the current state of the field. It concludes with implications for the future of intergroup aggression research, drawing on integrated theories that account for both personal and situational factors.

Concepts: Scientific method, Poverty, Sociology, Science, Social psychology, Abuse, Terrorism, Relative deprivation


Cues and experiences of the deprivation of financial/material resources have been associated with increased caloric intake and risk for overweight/obesity. Given that social comparisons may serve as a powerful reference for the adequacy of one’s standing and resources, the present research tested whether subjective feelings of personal relative deprivation (PRD) or “losing out” to others stimulates calorie selection and intake. Study 1 demonstrated that self-reported chronic experiences of PRD positively predicted calories selected for a portion and consumed during an ad-libitum meal. Study 2 revealed that experimentally-induced PRD resulted in an increase in the amount of calories selected on a portion selection task and a stronger desire to consume the foods. Consequently, these findings demonstrate that chronic and acute subjective deprivation of non-food resources may contribute to socioeconomic gradients in obesity, and that perceived social inequality may have inherently obesogenic properties that promote excess calorie intake.

Concepts: Nutrition, Poverty, Food, Sociology, Selection, Food energy, Calorie, Relative deprivation


Evidence has linked subjective feelings of personal relative deprivation with general gambling involvement and problem gambling tendencies. In turn, problem gambling tendencies have been linked with a wide array of damaging physical and mental health consequences. It has been theorized that the deleterious effects of perceived inequality on mental and physical health operate at the individual level through the experience of personal relative deprivation leading to psychosocial stress. We empirically examined whether the experience of perceived stress contributes to explaining the deprivation-gambling link using cross-sectional, self-reported survey data collected from a crowdsourced population of adults (n = 565). Results indicate that personal relative deprivation is associated with problem gambling tendencies (but not general gambling involvement) and that this association is mediated by perceived stress. These associations were particularly strong among participants who reported non-zero levels of problem gambling tendencies. Together, our results further emphasize the importance of individual-level social comparison reactions in the context of health.

Concepts: Psychology, Epidemiology, The Association, Mind, Negative and non-negative numbers, Link, Relative deprivation


Income is hypothesized to affect health not just through material pathways (i.e., the ability to purchase health-enhancing goods) but also through psychosocial pathways (e.g., social comparisons with others). Two concepts relevant to the psychosocial effects of income are: relative deprivation (for example expressed by the Yitzhaki Index, measuring the magnitude of difference in income among individuals) and Income Rank. This study examined whether higher relative deprivation and lower income rank are associated with depressive symptoms in an older population independently of absolute income.

Concepts: Sociology, Affect, Life expectancy, Absolute value, Relative deprivation


In most Western societies, wealth inequality is increasing, which in turn could increase people’s belief that one’s standing is relatively disadvantaged. Based on relative deprivation theory, we argue that such an experience of personal relative deprivation should causally lead to greater interpersonal hostility. Indeed, three experiments show that participants in a personal relative deprivation condition reported higher levels of aggressive affect and behaved more aggressively than did participants in a personal relative gratification condition. Compared to a control condition, participants experiencing personal relative deprivation were more aggressive rather than participants experiencing personal relative gratification being less aggressive. However, personal relative deprivation increased aggressive behavior only toward targets that were the source for participants' experience of disadvantage but did not increase aggression toward neutral targets.

Concepts: Poverty, Aggression, Social rejection, Anger, Relative deprivation


Various factors contribute to suicide. Psychological strains are hypothesized to precede suicidal thought and attempt. Life satisfaction can be a measure of relative deprivation strain and aspiration-reality strain.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Experiment, Hypothesis, Theory, Suicide, Relative deprivation


Substantial evidence has linked depressive symptoms to various indices of societal-level inequality and relative deprivation. A larger literature has also addressed cognitive vulnerability and correlates of depression. Despite this evidence, little research to date has examined the relationship of depressive symptoms with such downstream individual-level consequences of inequality as subjective relative deprivation, or whether relative deprivation is associated with cognitive vulnerability in depression. We conducted two investigations among four separate samples (total N = 2999) to examine associations between subjective relative deprivation and depressive symptoms and cognitions. Across our studies and four different self-report measures of depressive symptoms, we found consistent significant positive associations between subjective relative deprivation and depression symptoms. Further, we found that subjective relative deprivation was predictive of depressive symptoms over and above other known vulnerability factors. Finally, we found that the relationship between subjective relative deprivation and depressive symptoms was fully mediated by negative automatic thoughts about self. These results provide further evidence of the importance of subjective deprivation in maintaining negative mental health outcomes.

Concepts: Psychology, Cognition, Mind, Thought, Relative deprivation