Mental health, emotional wellbeing & personal development

Relative deprivation

Relative deprivation

Relative deprivation is an interesting concept. Humans are subject to this no matter what socioeconomic group they come from. There will always be people better off than us and worse off. The thing is, we tend to compare ourselves unfavourably to others and look to those who have more rather those who have less than us. As a result we often feel deprived.

Interesting research done on top universities showed that those students who went to top Universities such as Harvard were 30% more likely to drop out than students who had gone a good, but not a top university. The reason for this is that the top universities had a high ratio of very clever students. Even the students who were at the bottom would still, by national standards, still be incredibly intelligent and competent. Yet, when surrounded by so many talented students, relative deprivation sets in.

These clever, competent students who struggle begin to doubt themselves. They seem to forget that they are still the “creme de la creme” of society. Research has shown that those students who went to a slightly lower rated university were more likely to end up in the career of their choice whereas those students who had experienced relative deprivation often dropped out and followed an associated career but not their ultimate choice.

This just shows the importance of self belief and challenging our own limited thinking. That is the extra ingredient that can take you where others never go. Never forget that relative deprivation is relative and that we need to adjust our thinking accordingly. It’s not what happens to you that counts, it’s your perception of it that matters.

Mandy X


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