Is participating in self-improvement activities possible for those feeling relative deprived? A challenge to the Open System Theory
A large number of studies have consistently confirmed that relative deprivation leads to destructive behaviors. However, how relative deprivation affects constructive behaviors, such as self-improvement, remains unknown. According to Open System Theory, those in the disadvantaged situations would choose to take constructive behaviors when they believe that their status is possible to change. However, based on extant literature, it is also possible that relative deprivation could weaken people’s perceived economic mobility, thereby impeded their self-improvement. Thus, two competing hypotheses were proposed. Based on archived data, survey data and experimental data, the current study provided robust evidences supporting the mediating role of perceived economic mobility. Thus, the Open system theory was seriously challenged. The theoretical and practical implications of the current study results as well as future research directions are discussed.