Dial a feeling: Detecting moderation of affect decline during ostracism

Eric D. Wesselmann*, James H. Wirth, Daniel K. Mroczek, Kipling D. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Ostracism, being excluded and ignored, is a common and painful experience. Previous research has found ostracism's immediate effects robust to moderation by individual differences. However, this could be the result of using retrospective measures taken after the ostracism occurs, rather than assessing the effects of ostracism throughout the episode. Participants completed measures of loneliness and social avoidance and distress before either being ostracized or included in a virtual ball-toss game, Cyberball. During Cyberball, participants recorded second-by-second phenomenological affect using a dial device. Individual differences in loneliness and social avoidance and distress moderated affective reactions throughout ostracism and inclusion. Lonely individuals, compared to less-lonely individuals, had slower affect decrease when ostracized but quicker affective increase when included. Additionally, socially-avoidant individuals recovered more slowly from ostracism than less-avoidant individuals. Replicating previous research, moderation by individual differences was not detected with measures taken only at end of the interaction or with retrospective measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)580-586
Number of pages7
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • Loneliness
  • Ostracism
  • Social avoidance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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