Emotions impact decision making. Normative decision making models struggle to internalize this impact. Resentment, grievance, and bitterness are similar to each other, but different enough for me to include them all. They are low grade long term emotions that seem dysfunctional for those who carry them, but maybe functional at some level to encourage us to treat others better.
According to Wikipedia resentment is a complex, multilayered emotion that has been described as a mixture of disappointment, disgust, anger, and fear. You can feel resentment directly toward a person or group for how they mistreated you or you can feel resentment toward a person or group because they have been treated better by others or seem better in some way than you. Grievance somehow seems more specific, while bitterness seems more general and resigned. Resentment is anger’s passive aggressive brother.
In 2022, resentment seems to be driving all sorts of decision making all over the world. Vladimir Putin declares war on Ukraine. Millions of people suddenly do not want to get vaccinated and millions of others believe an election was stolen without evidence.
I loved the book Why Men Rebel by Ted Robert Gurr. I read it over forty years ago. It gave me what seemed like a truth that I had not thought about before. That truth was: “Don’t expect anyone to be happy based on some threshold level of consumption and attainment of goals.” Our expectations are created by looking around and seeing what everyone else has and with media and communications, we all know what everyone else has.
This is the concept of relative deprivation. Relative deprivation is defined as our perception of discrepancy between our value expectations and our value capabilities. Value expectations are the goods and conditions of life to which people believe they are rightfully entitled. Value capabilities are the goods and conditions they think they are capable of getting and keeping. This idea finally got through to me the weakness of the “rational” model–maximizing expected utility, and that there might be other concepts of rationality. Posts like Everyone else is a Hypocrite, Feeling is for Doing, Cultural Evolution, and Human Kinds Perception emphasize this. Gurr was interested in what spurred men to violence. Recently, on the fortieth anniversary of the book, Gurr discussed his book.