The way I make you feel: Social exclusion enhances the ability to manage others' emotions

Elaine O. Cheung*, Wendi L. Gardner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Original conceptions of social exclusion focused upon the negative impact of exclusion on intelligent thought (Baumeister, Twenge, & Nuss, 2002). We propose that although exclusion may impair cognitive forms of intelligence, exclusion should enhance more socially relevant forms of intelligence, such as emotional intelligence. Specifically, we examined whether exclusion would enhance performance in one branch of emotional intelligence: the ability to manage others' emotions. Social exclusion heightened the number and breadth of strategies that participants used for managing others' emotions when responding to hypothetical scenarios (Study 1) and when responding to online pen pals (Studies 3 and 4). Furthermore, excluded participants were more effective at energizing an interaction partner in a face-to-face coaching interaction (Study 2) and were rated as more effective at managing their pen pal's emotions in an online pen pal exchange (Studies 3 and 4). Although exclusion heightened the number and breadth of emotion management strategies generated in a social task, exclusion did not heighten the number or breadth of nonsocial strategies (creative uses for common household items) generated in a comparison task (Study 4). Lastly, we found preliminary evidence suggesting that this enhanced emotion management after exclusion may serve to facilitate reconnection; excluded participants were liked more by their interaction partners (Study 2) and were rated to be more likable by objective coders (Studies 3 and 4). Altogether, these findings suggest that individuals may be more effective at managing others' emotions following social exclusion, and this greater effectiveness may promote reconnection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-75
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume60
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

Keywords

  • Belonging
  • Emotion regulation
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Social exclusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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