Perceived Relative Deprivation Scale for Psychological Assessment

Theories of subjective and relative (psychological) deprivation are often used to explain political action. Extremist tendencies have often been linked to objective deprivation (reflected in material conditions such as poverty, unemployment, and low socioeconomic status). However, evidence for its role in extremism and radicalization has been inconclusive (Kunst & Obaidi, 2020). This led us to study perceived relative deprivation as a main psychological driver of violent extremism, as social inequalities in many societies are becoming increasingly apparent.

relative deprivation and marginalization

What is Relative Deprivation in Psychology?

From a psychological perspective, relative deprivation involves the perception that one’s group or oneself as a person is undeservingly worse off than other people in a relevant social context. Humans acquire information about themselves and their social standing through social comparison. Perceived relative deprivation is the result of social comparison and unmet expectations. In line with this, we defined psychological relative deprivation in the following way in a recent article:

“A central way by which humans obtain information about themselves and their social standing in society is through social comparisons, and relative deprivation describes a negative evaluation resulting from this. Specifically, relative deprivation involves the perception that oneself or one’s group does not receive valued resources, goals, ways or standards of living, which others possess and one feels rightfully entitled to.”

According to relative deprivation theory, when individuals face exclusion from social, political or economic opportunities, this experience may make them aware of their disadvantaged social identity and alienate them from others in society.


How to Psychologically Measure Perceived Relative Deprivation?

Subjective, psychological experiences of perceived relative deprivation may lead to a range of possible outcomes. Therefore, it is important that the measure of perceived relative deprivation matches the outcome of the analysis (e.g., comparison with a relevant outgroup). It is also important to determine whether a particular behavior of interest serves the group or the individual (e.g., the distinction between personal relative deprivation and group-based relative deprivation).

Moreover, previous research suggests that it is not the perception of injustices (the cognitive component) but feelings (affective component) that matter most for political violence (i.e., extremism either by low power groups to improve their situation and challenge the hierarchy, or by high power groups to uphold the status quo). As Pettigrew puts it: “(a) People first make cognitive comparisons, (b) they next make cognitive appraisals that they or their ingroup are disadvantaged, and finally (c) these disadvantages are seen as unfair and arouse angry resentment. If any of these three requirements is missing, relative deprivation is not operating” (2016, p. 9).

The Relative Deprivation Scale for Psychological Assessment

Previous measures of perceived relative deprivation tended to ignore one or more of the key components of perceived relative deprivation leading to low predictive power. This inspired us to develop a scale based on Smith et al. (2012), which can be found below. The scale is free to be used and includes validated translations.

The scaling format is a 7-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (totally disagree) to 7 (totally agree), but this can be altered if needed. The scale can be used to describe the social-psychological processes that might lead to violent extremism. It can help explain why certain Islamist terrorist plans have been coordinated by Muslims born and raised in Western countries but can also be used in other contexts.


Article to Cite When Using the Relative Deprivation Scale:

The Relative Deprivation Scale was first published in Psychological ScienceObaidi, M., Bergh, R., Akrami, N., & Anjum, G. (2019). Group-Based Relative Deprivation Explains Endorsement of Extremism Among Western-Born Muslims. Psychological Science, 30 (4), 596-605. [PDF]

Additional Articles on Relative Deprivation:

Kunst, J. R.., & Obaidi, M. (2020). Understanding violent extremism in the 21st century: the (re)emerging role of relative deprivation. Current opinion in psychology, 35, 55-59. [PDF]


Relative deprivation translations

    1. Muslims should have the same opportunities to improve their lives as non-Muslim westerners have.
    2. Muslims will always be at the bottom and non-Muslim westerners at the top of the social ladder.
    3. I feel furious about Muslim’ limited opportunities to get ahead in their lives.
    4. I think Muslims are disadvantaged because the West oppresses them.
    5. Muslims are disadvantaged because the West keeps them down.
    6. I feel angry because non-Muslim westerners discriminate against Muslim.
    1. Les musulmans devraient avoir les mêmes chances d’améliorer leur vie que les occidentaux non-musulmans.
    2. Les musulmans seront toujours en bas de l’échelle sociale et les occidentaux non-musulmans au sommet.
    3. Je suis furieux des possibilités limitées qu’ont les musulmans d’avancer dans la vie.
    4. Je pense que les musulmans sont désavantagés parce que les pays occidentaux les oppriment.
    5. Les musulmans sont désavantagés parce que les pays occidentaux les dominent.
    6. Je me sens en colère parce que les occidentaux non-musulmans discriminent les musulmans.

    1. مسلمانان باید فرصت های یکسانی برای بهبود زندگی خود مانند غربی های غیر مسلمان داشته باشند.
    2. مسلمانان همیشه نسبت غیرمسلمانهای غربی از لحاظ اجتماعی در پایین ترین سطح قرار دارند.
    3. من از فرصت های محدود مسلمانان برای پیشرفت زندگیشان عصبانی هستم
    4. من فکر می کنم مسلمانان محروم هستند زیرا غرب به آنها ظلم می کند.
    5. مسلمانان محروم هستند زیرا غرب آنها را پایین نگه می دارد.
    6. من احساس عصبانیت می کنم زیرا غربی های غیر مسلمان علیه مسلمان تبعیض قائل می شوند.


    1. يجب أن يحصل أعضاء مجموعتي العرقية على نفس الفرص لتحسين حياتهم مثل الغربيين الآخرين
    2. ﺳﯾﻛون أﻋﺿﺎء ﻣﺟﻣوﻋﺗﻲ اﻟﻌرﻗﯾﺔ داﺋ ًﻣﺎ ﻓﻲ الأﺳﻔل ، ﺑﯾﻧﻣﺎ ﺳﯾﻛون اﻟﻐرﺑﯾون اﻵﺧرون ﻓﻲ أﻋﻠﻰ اﻟﺳﻠم اﻻﺟﺗﻣﺎﻋﻲ
    3. أﺷﻌر ﺑﺎﻟﻐﺿب ﺣﯾﺎل اﻟﻔرص اﻟﻣﺣدودة لأﻓراد ﻣﺟﻣوﻋﺗﻲ اﻟﻌرﻗﯾﺔ ﻟﻠﻣﺿﻲ ﻗد ًﻣﺎ ﻓﻲ ﺣﯾﺎﺗﮭم
    4. أﻋﺗﻘد أن أﻓراد ﻣﺟﻣوﻋﺗﻲ اﻟﻌرﻗﯾﺔ منتقصين ﻷن اﻟﻐرب ﯾﺿطﮭدھم
    5. أفراد مجموعتي العرقية محرومون لأن الغرب يبقيهم محبطين
    6. أشعر بالغضب لأن الغربيين يمارسون التمييز ضد أفراد مجموعتي العرقية
    1. زما د توکمډلې غړو ته باید نورو لویدیځوالو په څېر د خپل ژوند غوره کولو ورته فرصتونه ورکړي شي.
    2. زما د توکمډلې غړي به تل د ټولنیزې زینې لاندینۍ او نور لویدیځوال به پاسنۍ برخه کې وي.
    3. زه هغو محدودو فرصتونو په اړه چې زما توکمډلې غړو ته خپل ژوند کې د پرمختګ لپاره ورکول کېږي د غوسې احساس کوم.
    4. زما په اند زما د توکمډلې غړي بې برخې دي ځکه چې لویدیځ دوی سره ظلم کوي.
    5. زما په اند زما د توکمډلې غړي بې برخې دي ځکه چې لویدیځ هغوی وروسته پاتې ساتي.
    6. زه له دې امله چې لویدیځوال زما توکمډلې په وړاندې تبعیض کوي د غوسې احساس کوم.
    1. ኣባላት ጉጅለ ዓሌተይ ናብርኦም ንምምሕያሽ ዘለዎም ዕድል ከምቶም ካልኦት ምዕራባውያን ማዕረ ተጠቀምቲ ክኾኑ ይግባእ።
    2. ኣብ መሰላል ማሕበረሰብ፤ ኣባላት ጉጅለ ዓሌተይ ከሉ ግዜ ኣብ ታሕቲ ካልኦት ምዕራባውያን ድማ ኣብ ላዕሎዋይ እቲ መሰላል ክኾኑ እዮም፡፡
    3. ኣባላት ጉጅለ ዓሌተይ ናብርኦም ንምምሕያሽ ዘለዎም ዕድል ውስን ምኹዋኑ የናድደኒ እዩ፡፡
    4. ከምዝመስለኒ እቶም ምዕራባውያን ስለዝጭቁንዎም ኣባላት ጉጅለ ዓሌተይ ተጠቀምቲ ኣይኾኑን፡፡
    5. ኣባላት ጉጅለ ዓሌተይ፤ እቶም ምዕራባውያን ስለዝጎድእዎም ፅጉማት እዮም፡፡
    6. ምዕራባውያን ኣብ ልዕሊ ኣባላት ጉጅለ ዓሌተይ ኣድልዎ ስለ ዝፍፅሙ ይሓርቅ እየ፡፡
    1. Członkowie mojej grupy etnicznej powinni mieć taką samą możliwość poprawy swoich warunków życia co inni ludzie z Zachodu.
    2. Członkowie mojej grupy etnicznej zawsze będą niżej od ludzi z Zachodu na drabinie społecznej.
    3. Uważam, że członkowie mojej grupy etnicznej są dyskryminowani, ponieważ jesteśmy uciskani przez Zachód.
    4. Członkowie mojej grupy etnicznej są w niekorzystnej sytuacji, ponieważ Zachód tak chce.
    5. Czuję wściekłość na myśl o ograniczonych możliwościach, jakie mają członkowie mojej grupy etnicznej żeby dobrze sobie radzić w życiu.
    6. Czuję złość, ponieważ ludzie z Zachodu dyskryminują członków mojej grupy etnicznej.
    1. Medlemmer av min etniske gruppe burde ha de samme mulighetene til å forbedre livene sine som andre vestlige folk har.
    2. Medlemmer av min etniske gruppe vil alltid være på bunnen av den sosiale rangstigen, og andre vestlige vil alltid være på topp.
    3. Jeg føler meg rasende over de begrensede mulighetene medlemmer av min etniske gruppe har til å komme framover i livet.
    4. Jeg tror medlemmer av min etniske gruppe er vanskeligstilt fordi vesten undertrykker dem.
    5. Medlemmer av min etniske gruppe er vanskeligstilt fordi vesten holder dem nede.
    6. Jeg føler meg sint fordi vestlige mennesker diskriminerer medlemmer av min etniske gruppe.
    1. Члены моей этнической группы должны иметь те же возможности для улучшения качества жизни, что и другие жители стран Запада.
    2. Члены моей этнической группы всегда будут находиться внизу, а жители стран Запада вверху социальной лестницы.
    3. Я чувствую гнев из-за ограниченных возможностей, которые имеют члены моей этнической группы для улучшения качества своей жизни.
    4. Мне кажется, что члены моей этнической группы находятся в невыгодном положении, потому что страны запада угнетают их.
    5. Члены моей этнической группы находятся в невыгодном положении, потому что страны Запада сдерживают их.
    6. Я чувствую злость из-за того, что жители стран Запада дискриминируют представителей моей этнической группы.
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