Why does social inequality affect mental health? The role of just world beliefs, trust and social rank in psychological well-being, paranoia and hallucinations

Wickham, S. and Shryane, N. and Lyons, M. and Dickins, Thomas E. and Bentall, R. P. (2014) Why does social inequality affect mental health? The role of just world beliefs, trust and social rank in psychological well-being, paranoia and hallucinations. Journal of Public Mental Health, 13 (2). pp. 114-126. ISSN 1746-5729

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– Relative deprivation is associated with poor mental health but the mechanisms responsible have rarely been studied. The purpose of this paper is to hypothesize that childhood perceived relative deprivation (PRD) would be linked to sub-syndromal psychotic symptoms and poor wellbeing via beliefs about justice, trust and social rank.

– In total, 683 undergraduate students were administered measures of childhood PRD, hallucination-proneness, paranoia and wellbeing and measures of trust, social rank and beliefs about justice. A subsample supplied childhood address data. Multiple mediation analysis was used to assess pathways from childhood experiences to outcomes.

– Childhood PRD was associated with all three outcomes. The relationship between PRD and paranoia was fully mediated by perceptions that the world is unjust for the self and low social rank. The same variables mediated the relationship between PRD and poor wellbeing. There were no significant mediators of the relationship between PRD and hallucination-proneness.

Research limitations/implications
– Although our outcome measures have been validated with student samples, it may not be representative. The study is cross-sectional with a retrospective measure of PRD, although similar results were found using childhood addresses to infer objective deprivation. Further studies are required using prospective measures and patient samples.

Social implications
– Social circumstances that promote feelings of low social worth and injustice may confer risk of poor psychological outcome. Ameliorating these circumstances may improve population mental health.

– Improvements in public mental health will require an understanding of the mechanisms linking adversity to poor outcomes. This paper explores some probable mechanisms which have hitherto been neglected.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology > Behavioural Biology group
Item ID: 21580
Depositing User: Tom Dickins
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2017 13:19
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2017 13:19
URI: http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/21580

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