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J Affect Disord. 2003 Jun;75(1):49-58.

Consequences of displaying abnormal social behaviour: avoidance and reduction of social reinforcement.

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Section of Clinical Psychopharmacology, Division of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK.



Abnormal social behaviour, which is a common feature of psychiatric disorders, is associated with rejection. A passive lack of participation or involvement has been studied as characteristic of depression but active forms of nonparticipation have received little experimental attention. This study examined the interpersonal consequences of four distinct types of social behaviour by using the role enactment method. Two of the roles portrayed abnormal social behaviour, active nonparticipant 'manic' and passive nonparticipant 'sad', and two portrayed normal social behaviour, active participant 'warm' and passive participant 'shy'.


Sixty-three normal subjects were randomly allocated to a brief dyadic social interaction with a confederate acting one of four roles. Subsequently, they rated their level of rejection of the confederate and took part in the mixed-motive game with him/her.


The subjects were more likely to reject confederates in the abnormal social behaviour roles. This was shown on both their nonverbal behaviour and their verbal report. On the mixed-motive game, subjects gave fewer points and less cooperative and ingratiating messages to the confederates who had displayed abnormal social behaviour.


This result might only reveal the effects of first impressions of a confederate who behaves in a particular way, but not be generalised to long term acquaintanceship.


These results extend previous findings that passive nonparticipant behaviour leads to rejection to active nonparticipant behaviour and show that the consequences of displaying such behaviour not only result in rejection but also in the reduction of social reinforcement. This might slow a patient's recovery process.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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