Can eye contact alleviate distress caused by ostracism?
Syrjämäki, Aleksi (2015)
Psykologia - Psychology
Yhteiskunta- ja kulttuuritieteiden yksikkö
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Being ostracized by others is distressing and painful. Previous research suggests that ostracism creates a need to re-affiliate with new potential interaction partners, and that successful re-affiliation can alleviate distress caused by being ostracized. As eye contact is an important cue indicating willingness for social interaction, it could reduce the adverse effects of ostracism. In this study, participants were randomly assigned to be either included or excluded in a virtual ball-tossing game Cyberball, after which they were shown a one-minute video of a person with either direct or downward gaze. Participants' mood, pain and satisfaction of basic social needs were measured right after the game (reflexive stage) and after the video (reflective stage). The main hypothesis was that, among participants ostracized in the game, seeing a video portraying a person with direct gaze would facilitate recovery of basic needs, mood, and social pain more than seeing a video of a person with downward gaze. However, while ostracized participants showed recovery in the reflective stage, the recovery was not differently moderated by the gaze direction in the video. In fact, ostracized participants had completely recovered by the reflective stage. Thus, the hypothesis was not supported. However, because the complete recovery of ostracized participants may have been due to distraction caused by the video viewing task, the hypothesis could not be refuted either. These results may have implications on how ostracism and recovery from ostracism should be studied in the future. The results also showed that ostracism and eye gaze together may influence public self-awareness. Personal characteristics did not have an impact on the outcomes of ostracism, except global self-esteem, which buffered against social pain.
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