How People Respond to Interpersonal Rejections

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The desire for positive social relationships is one of the most fundamental and universal human needs. This need has a deep root in evolutionary history in relation to mating and natural selection and this can exert a powerful impact on contemporary human psychological processes (Baumeister & Leary 1995). Failure to satisfy these needs can bear devastating consequences on the psychological well being of an individual. These needs might not be satisfied as rejection, isolation, and ostracism occurs on a daily basis to people. Although being ignored and excluded is a pervasive circumstance present throughout history across species, and humans of all ages and cultures i.e the use of Ostracism (the feeling of isolation and exclusion) has been observed in modern cultures (Woods 1978) Schools and academic institutions (Heron 1987) and interpersonal relationships (Williams 2000). Although ostracism can be seen as a social norm the effect this can have on an individual has the potential of being detrimental to individuals including extreme feelings of hurt. Individuals can respond to rejection in different ways ranging from psychologically to behaviourally. Both psychological and behavioural responses to interpersonal rejection posit theories based on the various paradigms used to stimulate ostracism in experimental settings resulting in s the creation of models by the likes of Williams (2007) and Leary (2009).

It is vitally important to recognise just how important the element of feeling accepted is to human survival in order to understand why rejection can cause detrimental effects to psychological wellbeing. Maslow in 1943 developed the hierarchy of needs, which accumulates varying components from physiological aspects (breathing, fo...

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...e. Behaviour Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, 38, 174-180.

Williams, K.D., & Sommer, K.L. (1997). Social ostracism by ones coworkers: Does rejection lead to loafing or compensation? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 693-706

Williams, K.D., & Zadro, L. (2001). Ostracism: On being ignored, excluded, and rejected. In M.R. Leary (Ed.), Interpersonal rejection (pp. 21-53). New York: Oxford University Press.

Zadro, L., Boland, C., & Richardson, R. ( 2006). How long does it last? The persistence of the effects of ostracism in the socially anxious. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43, 692-697.

Zadro, L., Williams, K.D., & Richardson, R. (2004) How low can you go? Ostracism by a computer lowers belonging, control, self-esteem, and meaningful existence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40, 560-567.