Psychology Essay

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The article examined the causal effects that relative and absolute deprivation had on hostility. The authors used the relative deprivation theory and hypothesized that when some people subjectively feel disadvantaged than others, this would be a better indicator of aggression than a perception of absolute status would. Absolute deprivation is a condition where an individual lacks the capacity to afford her basic needs. On the other hand, relative deprivation arises when people in a society cannot get what others in the same locality can, and perceive their predicaments as being unjust- leading to feelings of anger (Greitemeyer & Sagioglou, 2018). The two concepts are regarded as important inequality and poverty indices. The authors performed three tests that involved manipulating the participants’ status using a false feedback approach. For every experimental condition, the authors used 100 participants and supplied them with false feedback regarding the relative and absolute assets for their needs. Then, the authors evaluated their aggressiveness and behavior.


In the 1st experiment, the participants were identified as those with high absolute status (could easily meet their needs), low absolute status (experienced difficulties meeting their need), high relative status (had more assets than others), and low relative status (had less similar resources) (Greitemeyer & Sagioglou, 2018). A control condition was introduced where subjects in the low-relative group were assessed if they could be more tempestuous or those in the high-relative bracket could be less angry. The results showed inconsistent direct effects for aggressive behavior. However, a mediation analysis revealed that relative deprivation impacted more on the aggressiveness than absolute deprivation. These results were attributed to the feelings of being disadvantaged and stressed on the negative effects of increasing inequalities in many economies irrespective of their absolute wealth.


Greitemeyer, T., & Sagioglou, C. (2018). The experience of deprivation: Does relative more than absolute status predict hostility? British Journal of Social Psychology, 1-19.

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