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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2006 Nov;91(5):918-28.

When inclusion costs and ostracism pays, ostracism still hurts.

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Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands.


Recent research indicates that ostracism is painful even in the face of mitigating circumstances. However, in all previous experiments, there have been no costs to inclusion or benefits for ostracism. If being included meant losing money and being ostracized meant retaining money, would individuals still be distressed when ostracized? In 2 studies, the authors attempted to "load the dice" against inclusion in favor of ostracism. Participants played a variant of Cyberball called euroyberball (pronounced Euroball), in which ostracism and inclusion were crossed with whether the participants earned or lost money for each ball toss they received. In 2 experiments, the authors found that even when being ostracized meant retaining more money than the other players, it was painful. In Study 2, the authors also introduced conditions in which participants were overincluded. In these conditions, participants were sensitive to financial incentives. However, even then participants felt worse when given no positive attention than when given punitive attention.

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