Personal relative deprivation, delay discounting, and gambling

Mitchell J. Callan, N. Will Shead, James M Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

200 Citations (SciVal)


Several lines of research have provided evidence for a relation between personal relative deprivation and gambling. Despite this knowledge, little is known about possible psychological mechanisms through which personal relative deprivation exerts its influence on gambling. The authors of this research sought to examine one such mechanism: the desire for immediate rewards. Using complementary approaches to studying psychological mechanisms, they tested in four studies the general hypothesis that personal relative deprivation translates into gambling urges and behavior in part via increased desires for immediate, even if smaller, rewards. Study 1 showed that an experimental manipulation of personal relative deprivation increased participants' preferences for smaller-sooner over larger-later rewards during a delay-discounting task. Studies 2 and 3 showed that a decreased willingness to delay gratification led to increased gambling behavior. Study 4 showed that preferences for smaller-sooner over larger-later rewards statistically mediated the relation between self-reported personal relative deprivation and gambling urges among a community sample of gamblers. The implications and potential applications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)955-973
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


  • Delay discounting
  • Delay of gratification
  • Gambling
  • Justice motivation
  • Personal relative deprivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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