Motivations for Prevention or Promotion Following Social Exclusion: Being Rejected Versus Being Ignored

Daniel C. Molden*, Gale M. Lucas, Wendi L. Gardner, Kristy Dean, Megan L. Knowles

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations

Abstract

Social exclusion evokes powerful motivations and emotions. The present studies examined how these motivations and emotions might differ following exclusion that is explicit, active, and direct (i.e., when one is rejected) versus implicit, passive, and indirect (i.e., when one is ignored). It was hypothesized that being rejected should produce a sense of social loss and lead to more prevention-focused responses, including withdrawal from social contact, thoughts about actions one should not have taken, and increased feelings of agitation. In contrast, being ignored should produce a sense of failure to achieve social gain and lead to more promotion-focused responses, including reengagement in social contact, thoughts about actions one should have taken, and increased feelings of dejection. These hypotheses were supported across 4 studies in which people recalled or underwent experiences of being rejected or ignored. Past research on active versus passive exclusion is reexamined and found to be consistent with these hypotheses as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-431
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume96
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2009

Keywords

  • anxiety versus dejection
  • counterfactual thinking
  • regulatory focus
  • social exclusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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