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Social Rejection

Cognitive, Affective, Physiological, and Behavioral Consequences of Interpersonal Rejection

Dr. H. C. Sinclair

on 27 November 2017

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Transcript of Social Rejection

And its consequences
Social Rejection
What determines response?
On Multiple Levels
Rejection Hurts
Behavioral Responses to Rejection
Rejection Triggers...
Leary and colleagues (2003) conducted an archival analysis of reports of school shootings in the U.S.
87% of school shooters were ostracized in school
Deadly Consequences
Our Physiology
Our Brain
Our Basic Needs
Our Feelings
Experimenting with Ostracism
Rejection by strangers (on "trains," streets, elevators)
I don't like your profile
Not picked for a team
"Mean girls"
Eye rolls
Silent treatment
Reliving past rejections
Imagine this...
Dark and lonely future
For belonging
For positive self-regard
For control
For trust
For meaningful existence
... For survival
Now & Later
Cognition & Affect
Higher cortisol (Gunnar et al., 2003; Zwolinski, 2008)
"Metabolic syndrome" (Gustaffson et al., 2012 - 27 yr study)
Higher activity in dorsal striatum & dorso-lateral PFC (Will et al., 2016)
Increased morbidity & mortality
Higher “fearfulness”
Attentional bias for rejecting info
Exhibit hostile biases
Hostile attribution bias
Hostile perception bias
Hostile expectation bias
Emotional numbness
Hopelessness about inclusion
General hostility
Neglected, Withdrawn, Aggressive Rejected (Dodge & Coie, 2007)
Rejection Sensitivity (Downey & Feldman, 1996)
Decreased self-regulation (Baumeister et al., 2005)
Risk-taking (Prinstein & La Greca, 2004 - 6 yr follow-up of adolescents)
Depression & Anxiety (Modin et al., 2011 - 30 yr follow-up)
Eisenberger & Lieberman, 2004
Blackhart et al. 2007; Williams, 2009
Ostracism Detection Theory
(Williams, 1997, 2001)
Even in Passing...
A trained researcher walked past other pedestrians and did one of the following:
1. glanced quickly at them
2. gave a perfunctory nod and smile
3. looked right past them as if they didn't exist
Another member of the research team would stop the pedestrians on the next corner to ask a few questions about whether they feel disconnected from other people.
When pedestrians didn't get any acknowledgment from the stranger passing them, they reported a substantially lower sense of connection to other people.
These findings mirror research of elevator riders from over 20 years ago that showed how being completely ignored by the stranger standing next to you leads to a shift away from happiness toward hurtful feelings.
Even if we have plenty of friends
Peters et al., 2011
Gunther et al., 2010
Blackhart et al., 2007
Effects Stronger in Adolescence
Sebastian et al., 2009
Even if we are just a witness
"I feel your pain"
Wesselman et al., 2009
Shop Therapy?
Harm others
Emotional Eating
In a series of experiments, social exclusion caused people to spend and consume strategically in the service of affiliation. Relative to controls, excluded participants were more likely to:
buy a product symbolic of group membership (but not practical or self-gift items),
tailor their spending preferences to the preferences of an interaction partner,
spend money on an unappealing food item favored by a peer, and
Overall, results suggest that socially excluded people sacrifice personal and financial well-being for the sake of social well-being.
Mead et al., 2011
More likely to conform (Salzstein, 1975; Williams et al., 2000)
More likely to ingratiate when rejection threatens self-definition (Romero-Canyas et al., 2010)
Some evidence that one is more likely to engage in pro-social/helping behavior (Zadro, 2011)
Chicken feet for the soul?
Type of need threatened
Type of rejection
Chronicity of rejection
Individual differences
Interpretation of rejection
For generalized violence: Target Blaming &
"Groupness" (Gaertner et al., 2008)
Multimotive Model
Richman & Leary, 2009
But also higher progesterone (affiliation motive hormone) - Maner et al., 2010
see also Blackhart et al., 2011, Stroud et al., 2000, & Twenge et al., 2002
Exacerbated by Individual Differences
See Leary et al., 2006 for review
Dewall et al., 2010; Warburton et al. 2005
Twenge & Campbell, 2003
Also Rejection Sensitivity: Ayduk et al., 2008
Mead et al., 2011
When people were ostracized they judged
and those who ostracized them as less human (Studies 1 and 2), and believed they were viewed as less human by the perpetrators (Study 2).
Bastian & Haslam, 2010
Reijntjes et al., 2010
It just feels cold...
Recent work by Zhong and Leonardelli (2008) found that excluded individuals perceive the room as cooler and that they desire warmer drinks.
Ijzerman and colleagues (2012) found literal changes in bodily temperature: Being excluded in an online ball tossing game led to lower finger temperatures (Study 1), while the negative affect typically experienced after such social exclusion is alleviated after holding a cup of warm tea (Study 2).
See Nezlek et al., 2012
Also active: Portions of dorso-mPFC - commonly
associated with making self-evaluations ("how does this affect ME?" -Sebastian et al., 2010)
Replicated with televised exclusion by Coyne et al., 2011
Four experiments tested the idea that social exclusion leads to (unintentionally) self-defeating behavior. Exclusion was manipulated by telling some people that they were likely to end up alone later in life.
This randomly assigned feedback caused people to take irrational, self-defeating risks (Experiments 1 and 2),
choose unhealthy, rather than healthy, behaviors (Experiment 3), and
procrastinate longer with pleasurable activities rather than practicing for an upcoming test (Experiment 4).
A control group, who heard that their future would be marred by frequent accidents, did not show these self-defeating patterns. Thus, the effect goes beyond just hearing bad news.
Twenge et al., 2002
The Heartbreak of Unexpected Rejection
Rejection = Stress
Outcast-lash-out effect
Overlap but...?
Woo et al., 2014
Reliving social pain
Meyer et al., 2015
Take two Tylenol and call me in the morning...
Addiction & Craving
There may be physiological basis linked to "cravings" for the ex-partner.
Brown and her colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to recorded the brain activity of 15 college-age adults who had experienced a recent unwanted breakup and reported still feeling love for the ex-partner.
Upon viewing photographs of their former partners, there was activity in the same areas of the brain as where addicts show activation when they crave a drug they are withdrawing from.
This can lead to intense distress and physiological as well as psychological discomfort.
Breakup of a significant relationship creates a panic response in the brain and such stress in the body that neuroscientists believe it can lead to a lowered immune system and illnesses.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found that a loss of a loved one can create physical heart pain and shortness of breath. They call it
Broken Heart Syndrome.
But this was real-time physical pain vs. relived social pain
Pain killers can kill social pain (at least temporarily; DeWall et al., 2010)
Particularly for women, not men (Vangelisti et al., 2014)
But not for those depressed (Hsu et al., 2015)
So can marijuana (Deckman et al., 2014)
So can thinking you are drunk (Hales et al., 2015)
And anti-depressants can help alleviate physical pain (Williamson et al., 2014)
Is social pain underlying pain killer addiction?
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