Assignment: Summary Of Four Psychology Article

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Assignment: Summary Of Four Psychology Article

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Order Essay Social Psychological and Personality Science The online version of this article can be found at:

DOI: 10.1177/1948550613511502

published online 11 November 2013Social Psychological and Personality Science Shane Pitts, John Paul Wilson and Kurt Hugenberg

When One Is Ostracized, Others Loom: Social Rejection Makes Other People Appear Closer

Published by:

On behalf of:

Society for Personality and Social Psychology

Association for Research in Personality

European Association of Social Psychology

Society of Experimental and Social Psychology

can be found at:Social Psychological and Personality ScienceAdditional services and information for Alerts:

What is This?

– Nov 11, 2013OnlineFirst Version of Record >>

at UNIV TORONTO on February 6, 2014spp.sagepub.comDownloaded from at UNIV TORONTO on February 6, 2014spp.sagepub.comDownloaded from


When One Is Ostracized, Others Loom: Social Rejection Makes Other People Appear Closer

Shane Pitts1, John Paul Wilson2, and Kurt Hugenberg3


Social rejection causes a host of interpersonal consequences, including increases in reaffiliative behaviors. In two experiments, we show that reaffiliation motivation stemming from rejection biases perceptions of one’s distance from a social target, making others seem closer than they are. In Experiment 1, participants who had written about rejection underthrew a beanbag when the goal was to land it at the feet of a new interaction partner, relative to control participants. In Experiment 2, rejected participants provided written underestimates of the distance to a person relative to control participants, but only when the target was a real person, and not a life-sized cardboard simulation of a person. Thus, using multiple manipulations of social rejection, and multiple measures of distance perception, this research demonstrates that rejection can bias basic perceptual processes, making actual sources of reaffiliation (actual people), but not mere images of people, loom toward the self.


rejection, motivated perception, social exclusion, affiliation, distance perception

The human need to belong is a fundamental, pervasive motive,

which fosters the formation and maintenance of long-lasting,

positive social relationships (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). This

motive is deeply embedded in our evolutionary history owing

to our essential dependence on other people (Buss, 1990). So

vital is this urge to belong, that experiences of social rejection

can be acutely distressing, eliciting negative affect, lowered

self-esteem, and a threatened sense of belonging (Williams,

2007). Indeed, the pain of social rejection may be so palpable

because it relies on neural circuitry that has also been impli-

cated in physical pain (Eisenberger, Lieberman, & Williams,

2003). Given the potential costs of social exclusion and the

adaptive benefits of belonging, it is unsurprising that a thwarted

sense of belonging can initiate a host of psychological pro-

cesses directed at restoration of this need in the form of social

reconnection. One way to assuage the pain of rejection is to

restore one’s sense of belonging by redoubling efforts to seek

reaffiliation with others (see Williams & Nida, 2011). For

example, rejection leads individuals to express more interest

in making new friends and working with others (Maner,

DeWall, Baumeister, & Schaller, 2007; see DeWall & Richman,


To be in a position to socially reconnect with others, it

behooves us to be sensitive to and to readily perceive such

affordances. However, despite the complex downstream conse-

quences of rejection, only a handful of recent studies have

investigated how social rejection influences basic perceptual

processes. One theory that addresses this gap in the literature

posits that humans have a social monitoring system (Gardner,

Pickett, & Brewer, 2000) that constantly monitors and regu-

lates our level of social inclusion. This system is vigilant for the

experience of rejection, and when activated, it redirects atten-

tion, cognitive resources, and memory to cues that may facili-

tate reaffiliation (Pickett, Gardner, & Knowles, 2004). For

example, rejection causes perceivers to become more sensitive

to signals of inclusion, with participants showing crisper dis-

tinctions between in-groups and out-groups (e.g., Sacco, Wirth,

Hugenberg, Chen, & Williams, 2011), increased selective

attention toward signals of acceptance (e.g., smiles; DeWall,

Maner, & Rouby, 2009), and increased accuracy at discriminat-

ing between genuine and fake smiles (Bernstein, Young,

Brown, Sacco, & Claypool, 2008). Other work has shown that

rejection leads to a general activation of social bonds, such that

group-related constructs become more accessible and the per-

ceived entitativity and importance of groups is heightened

(Knowles & Gardner, 2008). In sum, those with whom shared

1 Birmingham-Southern College, Birmingham, AL, USA 2 University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada 3 Miami University, Oxford, OH, USA

Corresponding Author:

Shane Pitts, Department of Psychology, Birmingham-Southern College, 900

Arkadelphia Road, Birmingham, AL 35254, USA.


Social Psychological and Personality Science XX(X) 1-8 ª The Author(s) 2013 Reprints and permission: DOI: 10.1177/1948550613511502

at UNIV TORONTO on February 6, 2014spp.sagepub.comDownloaded from

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