According to new research from the University of East Anglia, hope for the future can protect people from risky behaviors such as drinking and gambling.
Researchers have found that ‘relative deprivation’ – that other people have better things in life than you.
They only wanted to know why some people resorted to running and risky behaviors such as drinking alcohol, taking drugs, overeating, or gambling, while others did not.
And they found the answer hopeful.
Shahriyar Keshavarz, a graduate student at the UEA School of Psychology, said: “I think most people have been deprived at some point in their lives. Feelings of unhappiness are the belief that your situation is worse than others and that other people are doing better than you.
Roosevelt famously called him a “thief of joy of comparison.” It’s the feeling you feel when a friend buys a new car, or when your sister gets married, or when a co-worker finds a better job, or when you get a better income.
“Relative deprivation can trigger negative emotions such as anger and resentment and has been linked to weak coping strategies such as risk-taking, drinking, drug use, or gambling.
“However, not everyone who achieves high results in relative deprivation measures makes these poor life choices. We wanted to find out why some people cope better and even use their experiences to their advantage.
“There’s a lot of evidence that hope can be helpful in the face of adversity, so we wanted to see how hope can help people feel happier with their destiny and be a buffer against risky behaviors.”
The research team conducted two laboratory experiments with 55 volunteers. Volunteers were tested to see how much they felt relative deprivation and hope.
Based on a survey of their families’ income, age, and gender, the researchers created a sense of relative deprivation in the volunteers, explaining how much they were deprived compared to their peers.
Then they took part in specially designed gambling games, which included taking risks and betting with a chance to win real money.
Dr Piers Fleming, also from UEA’s School of Psychology, said: “The aim of this part of the study was to see whether the feeling of relative deprivation – one with less knowledge than others – led to more risk at lower levels. -Risk reduction between men and high expectants.
“We looked at people who scored high for relative deprivation and considered their lives worse than those around them,” he said. We also looked at those who scored high for hope.
“We have seen that volunteers who score high on hope are less likely to take risks in the game. Those who were not very optimistic were more likely to take risks. ”
Another experiment examined whether hope helped people in the real world. They worked with 122 volunteers who gambled at least once in the last year. Volunteers took questionnaires to measure how hopeful they were, how they felt relatively deprived, and the problem of gambling.
Of the participants, 33 had no gambling problems (27 percent), 32 had low problem levels (26 percent), 46 had moderate problems leading to some negative outcomes (38 percent), and 11 were potentially harmful gamblers. control (9 percent).
Mr Keshawarz said: “When we look at these scores compared to the scores of hope and relative deprivation, we see that the increase in hope is related to a decrease in the likelihood of losing control of gambling behavior – even in those facing relative deprivation.
“Interestingly, our study did not find a significant link between hope and gambling violence among relatively privileged people. We don’t know why, but they may gamble for the sake of relaxation, or they may be better off when the fun stops. ”
The research team says that relying on people who are dissatisfied with their condition can protect them from harmful behaviors such as drinking and gambling.
Reference: “Relative Deprivation and Hope: Predicting Risk Behavior,” Shahriar Keshavarz, Kenny R. Coventry, and Piers Fleming, December 16, 2020, Gambling Research.
DOI: 10.1007 / s10899-020-09989-4