Relative deprivation, justice perceptions and forgiveness of victims in Poland and Uganda

  • Kamila Anna KRYGIER

Student thesis: PhD Thesis (Lingnan)


This study examines the question of how persisting economic and social inequalities between perpetrators and victims affect victims’ perceptions of justice and forgiveness in cross-cultural settings by applying the theory of relative deprivation. The hypothesis of this study is that inequalities trigger relative deprivation in victims, which in turn has a direct negative effect on forgiveness as well as an indirect effect via justice perceptions. Relative deprivation is defined as a consequence of a disadvantageous comparison with an outgroup. It includes the cognitive elements of comparing and perceiving the own outcome as less than deserved, as well as the affective components of anger and resentment. The comparison conditions applied in this study are economic status and social acknowledgement. In order to test the direct effect of relative deprivation on forgiveness, as well as the indirect effect via justice perceptions, vignette experiments were employed. The same causal relationships were tested with a survey to complement the experiment with a real-life setting. The studies were conducted in two culturally and historically diverse post-conflict settings, namely Poland and northern Uganda. To achieve a fuller picture of the similarities and differences between those settings this study made use of qualitative methods, such as open-ended questions and interviews. The regression analysis revealed consistent negative effects of relative deprivation on justice perceptions. The direct negative effects of relative deprivation on forgiveness are mostly significant but vary across both countries with regard to its different dimensions. As expected, a perception of justice contributes to forgiveness. Contrary to the theoretical predictions, victims experience varying degrees of relative deprivation in all experimental conditions except the one, where they are better off than the perpetrator. The qualitative findings revealed that an improvement of economic conditions is of utmost importance for the justice perceptions of most victims in both countries, as are apologies and remorse for forgiveness.
Date of Award2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Sociology and Social Policy
SupervisorRoman DAVID (Supervisor) & Hau Nung Annie CHAN (Supervisor)

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