Author ORCID Identifier

Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Cynthia McPherson Frantz

Committee Member(s)

Paul H. Thibodeau
F. Stephan Mayer


Psychological essentialism, Relative deprivation, Collective action


Group relative deprivation occurs when an individual believes that a group with which they identify has fewer resources than another group. The experience of group relative deprivation often includes feelings of injustice, anger, and resentment. Group relative deprivation may result in inter-group attitude changes, such as increased prejudice, and a willingness to engage in collective action to change the distribution of resources. Despite findings that relative deprivation is a subjective perception of resource distribution, few, if any, studies have investigated if the perceived essentialism of the groups involved in the perceived inequality impact the intensity of group relative deprivation. When groups are perceived as more essentialized, individuals believe that members of different groups have deep, unchanging differences. To test if perceived essentialism impacts group relative deprivation, participants were told that a group with which they identify has a lower average GPA than another group. Conditions varied on perceived essentialism of groups involved in the grade disparity – gender as the more-essentialized condition, and academic major division as the less-essentialized condition. Analysis revealed that females in the gender condition reported more intense relative deprivation experiences than females in the major condition, while the opposite was true for males. Though the role of essentialism remains unclear, social perception seems to play a role in the experience and outcomes of relative deprivation. These findings may have implications for resolving real-world conflicts that arise from a perceived unequal distribution of resources between groups.

Included in

Psychology Commons