Ostracism and Rejection Sensitivity: Are the sensitive really sensitive?
Berlingo, Meghan Teresa
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Ostracism, a form of social exclusion, threatens four fundamental needs: self-esteem, meaningful existence, control, and belonging. The present study sought out to examine if certain individual differences exacerbate the relationship between ostracism and threatened social needs as well as ostracism and recovery from these threatened needs. Previous research has suggested that individual differences are not a large contributor when it comes to immediate reactions to an episode of ostracism (Williams, 1997; Williams, 2007) but very few studies have actually looked into this. Most of the papers that have evaluated this topic have had small sample sizes (e.g., Monson, Hesley, & Chernick, 1982), which pose a problem when considering individual differences. Furthermore, the cognitive affective processing disposition known as rejection sensitivity has never been considered as a moderator between ostracism and need fulfillment. To execute this study, half of the participants (N=344) were ostracized and half were included via an online ball tossing game called cyberball. Participants completed a series of questionnaires that evaluated a variety of individual differences as well as their perceptions of the ball tossing game. Primary analyses indicated that rejection sensitivity and proposed Big 5 traits did not moderate the relationship between ostracism and threatened need fulfillment or ostracism and recovery. However, secondary analyses indicated that 3 variables, after ostracism is accounted for, appear to be predictive of threatened social needs: gender, rejection sensitivity, and significant BPD features. Being female, highly rejection sensitive, and having significant BPD features was predictive of lower need fulfillment scores Moreover, gender and BPD features are also predictive of recovery after ostracism is accounted for. Being female is predictive of higher recovery scores whereas significant BPD features were predictive of lower recovery scores. Implications and future directions for this study are discussed.