Assignment: Personality Science

Assignment: Personality Science
Assignment: Personality Science
Permalink: Social Psychological and Personality Science The online version of this article can be found at:
DOI: 10.1177/1948550613511502
published online 11 November 2013Social Psychological and Personality Science Shane Pitts, John Paul Wilson and Kurt Hugenberg
When One Is Ostracized, Others Loom: Social Rejection Makes Other People Appear Closer
Published by:
On behalf of:
Society for Personality and Social Psychology
Association for Research in Personality
European Association of Social Psychology
Society of Experimental and Social Psychology
can be found at:Social Psychological and Personality ScienceAdditional services and information for Alerts:
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– Nov 11, 2013OnlineFirst Version of Record >>
at UNIV TORONTO on February 6, 2014spp.sagepub.comDownloaded from at UNIV TORONTO on February 6, 2014spp.sagepub.comDownloaded from
When One Is Ostracized, Others Loom: Social Rejection Makes Other People Appear Closer
Shane Pitts1, John Paul Wilson2, and Kurt Hugenberg3
Social rejection causes a host of interpersonal consequences, including increases in reaffiliative behaviors. In two experiments, we show that reaffiliation motivation stemming from rejection biases perceptions of one’s distance from a social target, making others seem closer than they are. In Experiment 1, participants who had written about rejection underthrew a beanbag when the goal was to land it at the feet of a new interaction partner, relative to control participants. In Experiment 2, rejected participants provided written underestimates of the distance to a person relative to control participants, but only when the target was a real person, and not a life-sized cardboard simulation of a person. Thus, using multiple manipulations of social rejection, and multiple measures of distance perception, this research demonstrates that rejection can bias basic perceptual processes, making actual sources of reaffiliation (actual people), but not mere images of people, loom toward the self.
rejection, motivated perception, social exclusion, affiliation, distance perception
The human need to belong is a fundamental, pervasive motive,
which fosters the formation and maintenance of long-lasting,
positive social relationships (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). This
motive is deeply embedded in our evolutionary history owing
to our essential dependence on other people (Buss, 1990). So
vital is this urge to belong, that experiences of social rejection
can be acutely distressing, eliciting negative affect, lowered
self-esteem, and a threatened sense of belonging (Williams,
2007). Indeed, the pain of social rejection may be so palpable
because it relies on neural circuitry that has also been impli-
cated in physical pain (Eisenberger, Lieberman, & Williams,
2003). Given the potential costs of social exclusion and the
adaptive benefits of belonging, it is unsurprising that a thwarted
sense of belonging can initiate a host of psychological pro-
cesses directed at restoration of this need in the form of social
reconnection. One way to assuage the pain of rejection is to
restore one’s sense of belonging by redoubling efforts to seek
reaffiliation with others (see Williams & Nida, 2011). For
example, rejection leads individuals to express more interest
in making new friends and working with others (Maner,
DeWall, Baumeister, & Schaller, 2007; see DeWall & Richman,

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