Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

'Mean girls' be warned: Ostracism cuts both ways

05.03.2013
If you think giving someone the cold shoulder inflicts pain only on them, beware. A new study shows that individuals who deliberately shun another person are equally distressed by the experience.

"In real life and in academic studies, we tend to focus on the harm done to victims in cases of social aggression," says co-author Richard Ryan, professor of clinical and social psychology at the University of Rochester.

"This study shows that when people bend to pressure to exclude others, they also pay a steep personal cost. Their distress is different from the person excluded, but no less intense."

What causes this discomfort? The research found that complying with instructions to exclude another person leads most people to feel shame and guilt, along with a diminished sense of autonomy, explains Nicole Legate, lead author of the Psychological Science paper and a doctoral candidate at the University of Rochester. The results also showed that inflicting social pain makes people feel less connected to others. "We are social animals at heart," says Legate. "We typically are empathetic and avoid harming others unless we feel threatened."

The findings point to the hidden price of going along with demands to exclude individuals based on social stigmas, such as being gay, write the authors. The study also provides insight into the harm to both parties in cases of social bullying.

To capture the dual dynamics of social rejection, the researchers turned to Cyberball, an online game developed by ostracism researcher Kipling Williams of Purdue University. For this study, each participant tossed a ball with two other "players" in the game. The participant is led to believe that the other players are controlled by real people from offsite computers. In fact, the virtual players are part of the experiment and are pre-programmed to either play fair (share the ball equally) or play mean (exclude one player after initially sharing the ball twice).

The researchers randomly assigned 152 undergraduates to one of four game scenarios. In the "ostracizer" group, one of the virtual players was programmed to exclude the other virtual player and the study participant was instructed to exclude the same player. In a second set-up, the tables were turned. This time the pre-programmed players froze out the study participant. The study participant, who read instructions to throw the ball to other players, was left empty handed for most of the game, watching the ball pass back and forth, unable to join in.

Before and following the online game, participants completed the same 20-item survey to assess their mood as well as their sense of autonomy, competence, and relatedness.

Consistent with earlier research on ostracism, the study found that being shunned, even by faceless strangers in a computer game, was upsetting and lowered participant's mood. "Although there are no visible scars, ostracism has been shown to activate the same neural pathways as physical pain," says Ryan. But complying with instructions to exclude others was equally disheartening, the data shows, albeit for different reasons. This study suggests that the psychological costs of rejecting others is linked primarily to the thwarting of autonomy and relatedness.

The results, write the authors, support self-determination theory, which asserts that people across cultures have basic human needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness and meeting these hard-wired needs leads to greater happiness and psychological growth.

The researchers also tested the separate effects of simply following instructions that did not involve ostracizing others. Students directed to toss the ball equally to all players reported feeling less freedom than the "neutral" group that was allowed to play the game as they choose. However, neither of these latter groups experienced the distress evidenced by players who complied in excluding others.

These new experiments build on the classic work of Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram and others who demonstrated that people are disturbingly willing to inflict pain on others when instructed to by an authority. As in Milgram's studies, only a small number of the participants in this current research refused to snub the other player. The authors suggest that future investigations could explore the differences between individuals who comply with and those who defy pressure to harm others. Cody DeHaan from the Univeristy of Rochester and Netta Weinstein from the University of Essex, United Kingdom, also contributed to this study.

About the University of Rochester

The University of Rochester is one of the nation's leading private universities. Located in Rochester, N.Y., the University gives students exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary study and close collaboration with faculty through its unique cluster-based curriculum. Its College, School of Arts and Sciences, and Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are complemented by its Eastman School of Music, Simon School of Business, Warner School of Education, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, School of Medicine and Dentistry, School of Nursing, Eastman Institute for Oral Health, and the Memorial Art Gallery.

Susan Hagen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rochester.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field

23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>