How Hope Can Make You Happier With Your Lot
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Having hope for the future could protect people from risky behaviours such as drinking and gambling according to new research from the University of East Anglia. Researchers studied 'relative deprivation' - the feeling that other people have things better than you in life.

The team carried out two lab-based experiments with 55 volunteers. They were quizzed to find out how much they feel relative deprivation and hope. The researchers also induced feelings of relative deprivation in the volunteers, by telling them how deprived they were compared to their peers, based on a questionnaire about their family income, age and gender.

They then took part in specially designed gambling games that involved risk-taking and placing bets with a chance to win real money. They found that the volunteers who scored high for hope, were much less likely to take risks in the game. Those who weren't too hopeful, were a lot more likely to take risks.

Another experiment looked at whether hope helped people in the real world. They worked with 122 volunteers who had gambled at least once in the last year. The volunteers took part in questionnaires to gauge how hopeful they are, whether they feel relatively deprived and to measure problem gambling.

Of the participants, 33 had no gambling problems, 32 had low level of problems, 46 had moderate level of problems leading to some negative consequences and 11 were problem gamblers with a possible loss of control. They found that increased hope was associated with a decreased likelihood of losing control of gambling behaviour even in those who experienced relative deprivation.

The research team say that nurturing hope in people who are unhappy with their lot could protect against harmful behaviours like drinking and gambling.

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