Personal relative deprivation and proenvironmental intentions

William J. Skylark, Mitchell J. Callan

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3 Citations (SciVal)


Personal relative deprivation (PRD; the belief that one is worse off than other people who are similar to oneself) is associated with a reduced willingness to delay gratification, lower prosociality, and increased materialism. These results suggest that PRD may play a role in shaping people’s willingness to act to protect the natural environment. We report 3 studies that investigate a possible link between PRD and pro-environmental intentions (ENV). Study 1 was an exploratory study using a US sample; Studies 2 and 3 were pre-registered replications using UK and US samples, respectively. In each study, participants self-reported PRD and ENV; they also indicated their subjective social status (where they come on a national “ladder” of social class) and reported their income, education, age, and gender/sex. All three studies found a negative correlation between PRD and ENV. However, multiple regression analyses in which ENV was regressed on PRD and all other variables simultaneously indicated that the unique effect of PRD was small and, for Studies 2 and 3, the 95% confidence intervals included zero. No other variable emerged as a clear unique predictor across all three studies. The data suggest that PRD may be associated with reduced intention to act pro-environmentally, but the causal status of this association, and its relationship to other demographic and social-status variables, remains a topic for further research.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0259711
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Early online date18 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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