Lower subjective socioeconomic status (SSS) and higher personal relative deprivation (PRD) relate to poorer health. Both constructs concern people's perceived relative social position, but they differ in their emphasis on the reference groups people use to determine their comparative disadvantage (national population vs. similar others) and the importance of resentment that may arise from such adverse comparisons. We investigated the relative utility of SSS and PRD as predictors of self-rated physical and mental health (e.g., self-rated health, stress, health complaints). Across six studies, self-rated physical and mental health were on the whole better predicted by measures of PRD than by SSS while controlling for objective socioeconomic status (SES), with SSS rarely contributing unique variance over and above PRD and SES. Studies 4-6 discount the possibility that the superiority of PRD over SSS in predicting health is due to psychometric differences (e.g., reliability) or response biases between the measures.
- Journal Article