Just you and I: The role of social exclusion in the formation of interpersonal relationships

Natalie A. Wyer, Kimberley C. Schenke

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Social exclusion, or ostracism, has been investigated primarily for its (typically negative) consequences for those subjected to it. Although the negative effects of exclusion on its recipients are undisputed, we suggest that it may have unrecognized benefits for those who perpetuate it. The present research investigated the possibility that social exclusion acts as a signal to others - either within or outside of an exclusive interaction - that a selected relationship is particularly cohesive. Participants interacted in triads in which one individual was or was not singled out for exclusion. Perpetrators of exclusion were perceived (by themselves and by the excluded person) as closer and more similar to each other, and were more likely to be subject to source memory confusions. These findings suggest that social exclusion has not only harmful consequences for its targets, but may have relational benefits for those who enact it. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-25
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Early online date23 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • Social exclusion
  • Personal relationships

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