The belief that one is in a worse situation than similar others (Relative Deprivation) has been associated with involvement in a range of maladaptive escape behaviors, including excessive risk taking. Yet not everyone scoring high on measures of relative deprivation makes maladaptive choices. We hypothesized that hope may ameliorate the negative effects of relative deprivation. In two laboratory-based experiments using a novel risk-taking task (N = 101) we show that hope reduces risk-taking behavior in relatively deprived participants. A third study (N = 122) extended the moderating effect of hope on relative deprivation to real-world risk behavior; increased hope was associated with decreased likelihood of loss of control of one’s gambling behavior in relatively deprived individuals. Nurturing hope in relatively deprived populations may protect them against maladaptive behaviors with potential applications for harm reduction.
- Relative deprivation