Associations between perceived injustice, unforgiveness, and psychological well-being among ex-communicants

Susan D. Boon*, Jac Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Through the experiences of individuals excommunicated from a small religious sect (N = 95), we explored the association between perceptions of injustice resulting from chronic social exclusion and reduced psychological well-being. We also tested whether unforgiveness toward the church—particularly a tendency for participants to experience lingering negative affect and rumination about their treatment by the church—mediates this association. Analysis of responses to an online survey about participants’ experiences of chronic ostracism revealed the predicted association between perceived injustice and both anxiety and loneliness but not depression and supported our prediction that emotional-ruminative unforgiveness explains this association. Our findings also call into question whether the psychological outcomes of prolonged social exclusion are necessarily chronic and debilitating.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1991-2011
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • excommunication
  • loneliness
  • need to belong
  • ostracism
  • perceived injustice
  • psychological well-being
  • social exclusion
  • unforgiveness

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