When Silence Is Not Golden: Why Acknowledgment Matters Even When Being Excluded.

Personality and social psychology bulletin

PubMedID: 28903639

Rudert SC, Hales AH, Greifeneder R, Williams KD. When Silence Is Not Golden: Why Acknowledgment Matters Even When Being Excluded. Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2017;43(5):678-692.
Following ostracism, individuals are highly sensitive to social cues. Here we investigate whether and when minimal acknowledgment can improve need satisfaction following an ostracism experience. In four studies, participants were either ostracized during Cyberball (Studies 1 and 2) or through a novel apartment-application paradigm (Studies 3 and 4). To signal acknowledgment following ostracism, participants were either thrown a ball a few times at the end of the Cyberball game, or received a message that was either friendly, neutral, or hostile in the apartment-application paradigm. Both forms of acknowledgment increased need satisfaction, even when the acknowledgment was hostile (Study 4), emphasizing the beneficial effect of any kind of acknowledgment following ostracism. Reinclusion buffered threat immediately, whereas acknowledgment without reinclusion primarily aided recovery. Our results suggest that minimal acknowledgment such as a few ball throws or even an unfriendly message can reduce the sting of ostracism.