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Relative Deprivation Theory

 

Explanations > Theories > Relative Deprivation Theory

Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

We tend to decide how well-off or deprived we are not from any absolute standard or how hungry are, but by comparing ourselves with other people.

In particular, we decide on what we deserve and what we should expect from looking at other people. We then compare ourselves with this standard.

Research

Vanneman and Pettigrew (1972) asked white Americans how well off they were when compared with other whites and also with black Americans. Those who felt not well off when compared with other whites were more prejudiced against the black people.

Example

Even rich people can feel poor as the even richer parade in front of them.

So what?

Using it

Build up expectations of the other person, perhaps by showing what you have got. They will get to feel deprived. Then show them the way to alleviate that deprivation.

Defending

When you feel deprived, consider how you got that way. When you are drowning, beware of people who offer you straws to clutch.

See also

Perceptual Contrast Effect

References

Vanneman and Pettigrew (1972), Gurr (1970), Walker and Pettigrew (1984)

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