Recovery from ostracism : socioemotional and physiological factors and consequences
Knoll, Ross William
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Ostracism, the act of being excluded and ignored by individuals or groups, causes immediate and negative consequences for psychological well-being. However, relatively less is known about which factors may help or hinder recovery from ostracism over time. Even less research has investigated the immediate consequences of ostracism on cardiovascular functioning, or how cardiovascular activity changes over time. The present study explored whether negative (i.e., social anxiety or loneliness) or positive (optimism, perceived social support, or self-esteem) traits might moderate consequences or recovery from ostracism. Using a repeated measures experimental design, undergraduate psychology students (N = 70) played a game of Cyberball and were randomly assigned to be either included or ostracized by computer-controlled "players." Self-report questionnaires and cardiovascular measures were collected before and during Cyberball, and after a 45-minute recovery period. Ostracism caused immediate decreases in fulfillment of psychological needs; these changes were not moderated by any individual difference factors, although higher self-esteem was associated with modest benefits across conditions. No individual differences moderated how well individuals' basic needs recovered over time. Although ostracism did not appear to cause any immediate consequences for heart rate or heart rate variability, self-esteem (and possibly optimism) may have modest implications for changes in heart rate while processing one's reactions to social encounters. Possible implications are discussed, with emphasis on clinical applications and ideas for future research about traits that might buffer against ostracism's harmful effects.