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This research examines for the 1st time the effects of relative deprivation and relative gratification, based on social comparison, on implicit and overt forms of discrimination toward the outgroup in a minimal group setting. Study 1 showed that compared to a control condition, relative deprivation and relative gratification enhanced implicit discrimination-measured through variations of linguistic abstraction in intergroup descriptions. Whereas both relative deprivation and relative gratification produced linguistic ingroup favoritism, linguistic productions of relatively deprived groups also conveyed outgroup derogation. Study 2 showed that relatively deprived and relatively gratified groups were overtly discriminatory in intergroup allocations of negative outcomes. The effects of relative deprivation were mediated by perceived intergroup rivalry and, in part, by perceived common fate. Perceived common fate partly accounted for the effects of relative gratification. Study 3 focused on mediators of relative gratification. First, members of relatively gratified (vs. control) groups worried about losing the ingroup advantage, which together worked as sequential mediators of discrimination. Second, relatively gratified groups reported higher existential guilt, which, in turn, was related to expectations of discrimination by the relatively deprived outgroup, and these sequentially mediated the effects of relative gratification. Overall, these studies highlight that both relative deprivation and relative gratification enhance intergroup discrimination and contribute to the understanding of the underlying processes.

Original publication




Journal article


J Pers Soc Psychol

Publication Date





248 - 264


Adult, Female, Group Processes, Humans, Male, Reward, Social Discrimination, Young Adult