According to a new study from the University of East Anglia, having hope for the future could shield individuals from risky habits including alcohol and gambling.
Relative deprivation”relative deprivation”
They decided to find out why escapist and dangerous habits such as drinking alcohol, taking drugs, overeating or gambling are only encountered by certain people who experience this resort, while others do not.
And they found that in hope lies the answer.
Doctoral student Shahriar Keshavarz from the UEA School of Psychology said, “At some point in their lives, I think most people have experienced relative deprivation.”
It’s the sense that your lot is dissatisfied, the assumption that your condition is worse than others, that other individuals are better off than you.
Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy,”
When a friend buys a new car or your sister gets married or a colleague finds a better job or has a better salary, it’s the feeling you get.
Relative deprivation can cause adverse feelings such as rage and frustration and is related to poor coping mechanisms such as risk-taking, alcohol consumption, narcotics or gambling.
“But not everyone who scores high on relative deprivation tests makes these bad choices in life.
In order to change their own situation, we decided to find out why certain people seem to cope better or even use the experience to their advantage.
“There’s a lot of evidence that staying hopeful in the face of adversity can be beneficial, so we wanted to see if hope can help people be more satisfied with their lot and protect them from risky behavior.”
Two laboratory-based experiments with 55 volunteers were performed by the research team.
To discover how deeply they felt relative deprivation and hope, the volunteers were surveyed.
By asking them how low they were compared to their peers using a questionnaire about their family income, age and gender, the researchers also triggered feelings of relative deprivation in the volunteers.
They then took part in specially crafted chance games that allowed them to take chances and place bets with the potential to win real money.
“Dr. Piers Fleming, also of UEA’s School of Psychology, said, “The purpose of this part of the study was to see if feeling comparatively deprived induces greater risk-taking among the low-hoppers and lower risk-taking among the high-hoppers, induced by the awareness that you have less income than comparable others.
We looked at those who had a high relative deprivation score, those who considered a poorer living condition than those around them.
And we were looking at those who had a high score for optimism, too.
The subjects that scored high on hope were found to be much less likely to take chances in the game.
Much more likely to take chances were those who were not as optimistic.
Another experiment looked at whether in the real world optimism benefits people.
They were working with 122 volunteers who, in the past year, had gambled at least once.
To assess how optimistic they were, if they felt relatively stressed and to determine problem gambling, the volunteers took questionnaires.
Of the participants, 33 had no gambling issues (27%), 32 had a low problem level (26%), 46 had a moderate problem level that resulted in some adverse effects (38%) and 11 were problem gamblers with a potential loss of control (9 percent).
“When we compared these scores with those for hope and relative deprivation, we found that increased hope was associated with a lower probability of loss of control over gambling behavior, even among those who suffered relative deprivation,” Mr. Keshavarz said.
Interestingly, our research found no significant correlation among relatively privileged individuals between hope and the intensity of gambling.
We don’t know why this is, but it may be because when the fun ends, they play recreationally or are more able to stop.
The research team says that promoting hope could protect against risky habits such as alcohol and gambling in individuals who are unhappy with their lot.
Reference, “Relative Deprivation and Hope: Predictors of Risk Behavior.”