Relative Deprivation – A Cognitive Bias That Makes Scam Victims Believe They Are Unfairly Disadvantaged – 2024

Relative Deprivation – A Cognitive Bias That Makes Scam Victims Believe They Are Unfairly Disadvantaged

Cognitive Biases Play a Role in Your Vulnerability & Susceptibility to Scams and Create Difficulty Recovering from Them!

The Psychology of Scams – A SCARS Insight

•  Tim McGuinness, Ph.D. – Anthropologist, Scientist, Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.

Article Abstract

Relative Deprivation is a psychological concept and cognitive bias that arises when individuals perceive themselves as unfairly disadvantaged compared to others.

Relative Deprivation occurs when people feel they lack resources, opportunities, or status relative to those around them, leading to resentment and discontentment.

Scam victims often experience this when comparing their suffering or recovery progress to that of others. This can exacerbate feelings of inadequacy and frustration, hindering their healing process.

Overcoming relative deprivation involves acknowledging emotions, seeking support, and reframing perspectives. By celebrating progress and focusing on gratitude, victims can reclaim control over their narrative and pave the way for a brighter future amidst adversity.

Scam Victim Cognitive Biases - Creating Vulnerabilities & Challenges To Recovery - on SCARS

Relative Deprivation is a Psychological Concept that arises when Individuals Perceive themselves as Unfairly Disadvantaged compared to others

It occurs when people feel that they lack resources, opportunities, or status relative to those around them, leading to feelings of resentment, frustration, and discontentment. In the context of scam victims, relative deprivation can manifest when they compare their own suffering or victimization to that of others.

Introduction to Relative Deprivation

After a scam, individuals often face a tumultuous journey towards emotional recovery. While the immediate financial repercussions are evident, the psychological aftermath can be equally, if not more, debilitating. Among the multiple of challenges that scam victims encounter during their recovery journey, one often overlooked yet profoundly impactful factor is relative deprivation. This psychological phenomenon, a cognitive bias, rooted in social comparison, can cast a long shadow over victims’ attempts to heal and rebuild their lives.

Scam victims experience relative deprivation in various ways. Firstly, they might compare their financial losses or emotional trauma to those of other victims or non-victims, feeling that their own experience is more severe or unjust. This can exacerbate feelings of anger, bitterness, and a sense of being unfairly treated by fate or circumstance. This is somewhat natural but must be controlled or it can easily get out of control.

Moreover, in the aftermath of a scam, victims may also compare their recovery progress to that of others. Seeing fellow victims seemingly moving on with their lives more quickly or coping better can intensify feelings of inadequacy, self-blame, and frustration. This comparison may lead to a distorted perception of their own recovery journey, hindering progress and exacerbating psychological distress. It can be useful to compare one’s own progress against an ideal model, but never against other victims specifically. This is particularly important in cases where scam victims drifted away from recovery or stalled their progress through resistance and avoidance mechanisms.

Sadly, in the age of social media, where individuals often create idealized (fake) versions of their lives, scam victims may be exposed to unrealistic portrayals of resilience and success. Seeing others seemingly unaffected by similar experiences can fuel feelings of isolation and alienation, amplifying the sense of relative deprivation.

In essence, relative deprivation among scam victims underscores the complexity of their psychological experience. By comparing their suffering or victimization to that of others, they can inadvertently magnify their own sense of injustice and hardship, hindering their ability to heal and move forward. Recognizing and addressing these feelings within an honest, supportive, and understanding environment is mandatory in facilitating the recovery process and fostering resilience among scam victims.

Understanding Relative Deprivation

Relative deprivation is a cognitive bias where individuals perceive themselves as disadvantaged compared to others in similar circumstances. It stems from the innate human tendency to assess one’s well-being and success in relation to others, rather than in absolute terms. In the context of scam victims, relative deprivation can manifest in various ways, exacerbating the already complex emotional landscape post-scam.

The Impact on Scam Victims

After the scam ends, victims may find themselves grappling with feelings of inadequacy, resentment, and bitterness as they compare their circumstances to those of others. They might perceive others as having recovered more swiftly or suffered less severe consequences, leading to a sense of injustice and unfairness. This comparison can intensify the victim’s emotional distress and impede their progress towards recovery.

During Emotional Recovery

Relative deprivation continues to haunt scam victims during their emotional recovery journey. As they navigate the process of healing and rebuilding their lives, victims may encounter triggers that reignite feelings of deprivation and resentment. Milestones such as financial stability, career advancement, or personal achievements achieved by others can serve as painful reminders of their own setbacks and losses.

Moreover, the pervasive nature of social media exacerbates the impact of relative deprivation on scam victims. Constant exposure to curated depictions of others’ successes and happiness can fuel feelings of inadequacy and amplify the sense of being left behind. Scam victims may internalize these comparisons, further eroding their self-esteem and hindering their ability to move forward.

Challenges in Recovery

Relative deprivation poses significant challenges to scam victims’ recovery efforts. It can fuel a cycle of negative emotions, including envy, self-doubt, and resentment, which undermine their psychological well-being. Moreover, the persistent sense of being disadvantaged can lead to a distorted perception of reality, where victims struggle to recognize their progress and accomplishments.

Overcoming Relative Deprivation

Addressing relative deprivation requires a multifaceted approach that combines self-awareness, cognitive reframing, and social support. Scam victims must first acknowledge and validate their emotions without succumbing to self-blame or despair. By recognizing that recovery is a unique and nonlinear process, victims can cultivate self-compassion and resilience in the face of adversity.

Practical strategies, such as limiting exposure to triggering stimuli on social media, seeking professional counseling, and participating in support groups, can provide invaluable support to scam victims. Engaging in activities that foster personal growth and self-care can also help individuals regain a sense of agency and purpose in their lives.

Plus, reframing the narrative of relative deprivation can empower victims to shift their focus from comparison to gratitude and appreciation for their own journey. By celebrating their progress, however small, and reframing setbacks as opportunities for growth, victims can reclaim control over their narrative and pave the way for a brighter future.


Relative deprivation casts a long shadow over the emotional recovery journey of scam victims, complicating their efforts to heal and rebuild their lives. However, by recognizing the impact of social comparison bias and implementing strategies to mitigate its effects, victims can navigate the challenges of recovery with resilience and determination. Ultimately, by embracing self-compassion, seeking support, and reframing their perspective, scam victims can emerge from adversity stronger and more resilient than before.

About Cognitive Biases

This article is part of SCARS continuing commitment to helping the victims of scams (financial fraud) to better understand the psychology of scams. In other words, why are victims vulnerable and how do Cognitive Biases relate to that?

How Do Cognitive Biases Make People Vulnerable To Scams, Fraud, and Deception

How do cognitive biases play a role in making people vulnerable and susceptible to scams, fraud, and deception?

Cognitive biases are mental shortcuts that allow people to make quick decisions and judgments based on their past experiences and memories. These biases can be helpful in many situations, as they allow people to process large amounts of information quickly and efficiently. However, they can also make people vulnerable to scams, fraud, and deception.

One reason why cognitive biases make people vulnerable to scams is that they can lead people to make judgments that are not based on evidence or logical reasoning. For example, Confirmation Bias (a major bias that makes people vulnerable) is the tendency to seek out and interpret information that supports one’s preexisting beliefs, while ignoring or dismissing information that contradicts them. This can make people more susceptible to scams that appeal to their beliefs or biases, as they are more likely to believe the scammer’s claims without critically evaluating the evidence.

There are several ways that people can protect themselves from scams, fraud, and deception. One way is to be aware of common cognitive biases and how they can affect decision-making. This can help people to be more mindful of their thought processes and to question their own judgments.

Another way to protect oneself is to be skeptical of claims and offers that seem too good to be true. It is important to carefully evaluate the evidence and to ask questions before making a decision. This can help people to avoid falling for scams that rely on emotional appeals or incomplete information.

It can also be helpful to seek out additional sources of information and to consult with trusted friends, family members, or professionals before making a decision. This can provide a more balanced perspective and help to identify any potential red flags. But if you do not understand your Cognitive Biases then you will not even see the red flags!

Overall, cognitive biases can make people vulnerable to scams, fraud, and deception by leading them to make judgments that are not based on evidence or logical reasoning, and by causing them to make irrational or risky decisions. However, by being aware of these biases and taking steps to protect oneself, people can reduce their risk of falling victim to these types of scams.


Cognitive biases do make people more vulnerable to scams, fraud, and deception by causing them to ignore warning signs, pay more attention to information that supports their preexisting beliefs, rely on incomplete information, and anchor their decisions to easy and often incorrect information.

By being aware of these biases and making an effort to overcome them, people can be better equipped to avoid falling victim to scams and other forms of deception.

More About Cognitive Biases & Vulnerabilities

Statement About Victim Blaming

Some of our articles discuss various aspects of victims. This is both about better understanding victims (the science of victimology) and their behaviors and psychology. This helps us to educate victims/survivors about why these crimes happened and to not blame themselves, better develop recovery programs, and to help victims avoid scams in the future. At times this may sound like blaming the victim, but it does not blame scam victims, we are simply explaining the hows and whys of the experience victims have.

These articles, about the Psychology of Scams or Victim Psychology – meaning that all humans have psychological or cognitive characteristics in common that can either be exploited or work against us – help us all to understand the unique challenges victims face before, during, and after scams, fraud, or cybercrimes. These sometimes talk about some of the vulnerabilities the scammers exploit. Victims rarely have control of them or are even aware of them, until something like a scam happens and then they can learn how their mind works and how to overcome these mechanisms.

Articles like these help victims and others understand these processes and how to help prevent them from being exploited again or to help them recover more easily by understanding their post-scam behaviors. Learn more about the Psychology of Scams at

Psychology Disclaimer:

All articles about psychology and the human brain on this website are for information & education only

The information provided in this article is intended for educational and self-help purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for professional therapy or counseling.

While any self-help techniques outlined herein may be beneficial for scam victims seeking to recover from their experience and move towards recovery, it is important to consult with a qualified mental health professional before initiating any course of action. Each individual’s experience and needs are unique, and what works for one person may not be suitable for another.

Additionally, any approach may not be appropriate for individuals with certain pre-existing mental health conditions or trauma histories. It is advisable to seek guidance from a licensed therapist or counselor who can provide personalized support, guidance, and treatment tailored to your specific needs.

If you are experiencing significant distress or emotional difficulties related to a scam or other traumatic event, please consult your doctor or mental health provider for appropriate care and support.

If you are in crisis, feeling desperate, or in despair please call 988 or your local crisis hotline.

-/ 30 /-

What do you think about this?
Please share your thoughts in a comment below!

SCARS FREE Support & Recovery Program - 4 EVER FREE

Do You Need Support?
Get It Now!

SCARS provides the leading Support & Recovery program for relationship scam victims – completely FREE!

Our managed peer support groups allow victims to talk to other survivors and recover in the most experienced environment possible, for as long as they need. Recovery takes as long as it takes – we put no limits on our support!

SCARS is the most trusted support & education provider in the world. Our team is certified in trauma-informed care, grief counseling, and so much more!

To apply to join our groups visit

We also offer separate support groups for family & friends too.

SCARS STAR Membership

Become a

SCARS offers memberships in our STAR program, which includes many benefits for a very low annual membership fee!

SCARS STAR Membership benefits include:

  • FREE Counseling or Therapy Benefit from our partner
  • Exclusive members-only content & publications
  • Discounts on SCARS Self-Help Books Save
  • And more!

To learn more about the SCARS STAR Membership visit

To become a SCARS STAR Member right now visit

SCARS Publishing Self-Help Recovery Books Available At

Scam Victim Self-Help Do-It-Yourself Recovery Books

SCARS Printed Books For Every Scam Survivor From SCARS Publishing


Each is based on our SCARS Team’s 32-plus years of experience.

SCARS Website Visitors receive an Extra 10% Discount
Use Discount Code “romanacescamsnow” at Checkout



Legal Disclaimer:

The content provided on this platform regarding psychological topics is intended solely for educational and entertainment purposes. The publisher makes no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information presented. The content is designed to raise awareness about various psychological subjects, and readers are strongly encouraged to conduct their own research and verify information independently.

The information presented does not constitute professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment of any psychological disorder or disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Readers are advised to seek the guidance of a licensed medical professional for any questions or concerns related to their mental health.

The publisher disclaims any responsibility for actions taken or not taken based on the content provided. The treatment of psychological issues is a serious matter, and readers should consult with qualified professionals to address their specific circumstances. The content on this platform is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, a therapist-client relationship.

Interpretation and Definitions


For the purposes of this Disclaimer:

  • Company (referred to as either “the Company”, “We”, “Us” or “Our” in this Disclaimer) refers to Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. (registered d.b.a. “SCARS”,) 9561 Fountainbleau Blvd., Suit 602, Miami FL 33172.
  • Service refers to the Website.
  • You means the individual accessing this website, or the company, or other legal entity on behalf of which such individual is accessing or using the Service, as applicable.
  • Website refers to, accessible from

Website Disclaimer

The information contained on this website is for general information purposes only.

The Company assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in the contents of the Service.

In no event shall the Company be liable for any special, direct, indirect, consequential, or incidental damages or any damages whatsoever, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tort, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Service or the contents of the Service. The Company reserves the right to make additions, deletions, or modifications to the contents on the Service at any time without prior notice.

The Company does not warrant this website in any way.

External Links Disclaimer

This website may contain links to external websites that are not provided or maintained by or in any way affiliated with the Company.

Please note that the Company does not guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of any information on these external websites.

Errors and Omissions Disclaimer

The information given by SCARS is for general guidance on matters of interest only. Even if the Company takes every precaution to ensure that the content of this website is both current and accurate, errors can occur. Plus, given the changing nature of laws, rules, and regulations, there may be delays, omissions, or inaccuracies in the information contained on this website.

SCARS is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information.

Fair Use Disclaimer

SCARS may use copyrighted material that has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The Company is making such material available for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.

The Company believes this constitutes a “fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the United States Copyright law.

If You wish to use copyrighted material from this website for your own purposes that go beyond fair use, You must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Views Expressed Disclaimer

The Service may contain views and opinions which are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other author, agency, organization, employer, or company, including SCARS.

Comments published by users are their sole responsibility and the users will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The Company is not liable for any comment published by users and reserves the right to delete any comment for any reason whatsoever.

No Responsibility Disclaimer

The information on the Service is provided with the understanding that the Company is not herein engaged in rendering legal, accounting, tax, medical or mental health, or other professional advice and services. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting, tax, legal, medical or mental health, or other competent advisers.

In no event shall the Company, its team, board of directors, volunteers, or its suppliers be liable for any special, incidental, indirect, or consequential damages whatsoever arising out of or in connection with your access or use or inability to access or use the Service.

“Use at Your Own Risk” Disclaimer

All information on this website is provided “as is”, with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose.

SCARS will not be liable to You or anyone else for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information given by the Service or for any consequential, special, or similar damages, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Disclaimer, You can contact Us:

  • By email:

PLEASE NOTE: Psychology Clarification

The following specific modalities within the practice of psychology are restricted to psychologists appropriately trained in the use of such modalities:

  • Diagnosis: The diagnosis of mental, emotional, or brain disorders and related behaviors.
  • Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalysis is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals to understand and resolve unconscious conflicts.
  • Hypnosis: Hypnosis is a state of trance in which individuals are more susceptible to suggestion. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and pain.
  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a type of therapy that teaches individuals to control their bodily functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, and pain.
  • Behavioral analysis: Behavioral analysis is a type of therapy that focuses on changing individuals’ behaviors. It is often used to treat conditions such as autism and ADHD.
    Neuropsychology: Neuropsychology is a type of psychology that focuses on the relationship between the brain and behavior. It is often used to assess and treat cognitive impairments caused by brain injuries or diseases.

SCARS and the members of the SCARS Team do not engage in any of the above modalities in relationship to scam victims. SCARS is not a mental healthcare provider and recognizes the importance of professionalism and separation between its work and that of the licensed practice of psychology.

SCARS is an educational provider of generalized self-help information that individuals can use for their own benefit to achieve their own goals related to emotional trauma. SCARS recommends that all scam victims see professional counselors or therapists to help them determine the suitability of any specific information or practices that may help them.

SCARS cannot diagnose or treat any individuals, nor can it state the effectiveness of any educational information that it may provide, regardless of its experience in interacting with traumatized scam victims over time. All information that SCARS provides is purely for general educational purposes to help scam victims become aware of and better understand the topics and to be able to dialog with their counselors or therapists.

It is important that all readers understand these distinctions and that they apply the information that SCARS may publish at their own risk, and should do so only after consulting a licensed psychologist or mental healthcare provider.






This content and other material contained on the website, apps, newsletter, and products (“Content”), is general in nature and for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical, legal, or financial advice; the Content is not intended to be a substitute for licensed or regulated professional advice. Always consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider, lawyer, financial, or tax professional with any questions you may have regarding the educational information contained herein. SCARS makes no guarantees about the efficacy of information described on or in SCARS’ Content. The information contained is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible situations or effects. SCARS does not recommend or endorse any specific professional or care provider, product, service, or other information that may be mentioned in SCARS’ websites, apps, and Content unless explicitly identified as such.

The disclaimers herein are provided on this page for ease of reference. These disclaimers supplement and are a part of SCARS’ website’s Terms of Use. 

All original content is Copyright © 1991 – 2023 Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. (Registered D.B.A SCARS) All Rights Reserved Worldwide & Webwide. Third-party copyrights acknowledge.

U.S. State of Florida Registration Nonprofit (Not for Profit) #N20000011978 [SCARS DBA Registered #G20000137918] – Learn more at

View the claimed and or registered indicia, service marks, and trademarks of Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc., All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Contact the law firm for the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated by email at

Share This Information - Choose Your Social Media!

Please Leave A Comment - Tell Us What You Think About This!