Reversing the negative psychological sequalae of exclusion: Inclusion is ameliorative but not protective against the aversive consequences of exclusion.

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Although exclusion can have devastating personal, social, and clinical consequences, several recent studies have identified factors that can reduce its aversive impact (e.g., distraction from rumination, control over a noise). In this study, we continued to explore possible strategies for reducing the aversive experiences of being excluded. Three experiments investigated whether an experience of inclusion reduced the impact of exclusion. Specifically, participants engaged in two rounds of a computer ball toss game (Cyberball) in which they were either included or excluded in each. Participants were told either that they played the two games with the same two sources (Experiment 1), with a different pair of sources in the two games (Experiment 2), or with people and then computer controlled sources (Experiment 3). We measured the impact of exclusion and inclusion on the psychological states of belonging, control, self esteem, meaningful existence, hurt feelings, anger, and affect. Across all three experiments, if inclusion occurred following exclusion then it was found to have an ameliorative benefit. However, if inclusion occurred prior to exclusion there was no protective benefit. Finally, we compared the ratings following one versus two experiences of exclusion, with no additive impact found. Taken together, the results indicate that inclusion can reduce the impact of exclusion, but only if it occurs after exclusion. Further, inclusion is ameliorative when it is by a different group or even a computer program.
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Tang, Helen
Richardson, Rick
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Journal Article
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UNSW Faculty