Ostracism in everyday life

John B. Nezlek*, Eric D. Wesselmann, Ladd Wheeler, Kipling D. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    180 Citations (Scopus)


    Ostracism is a negative interpersonal experience that has been studied primarily in laboratory settings in which people have been ostracized by strangers and the motives for being ostracized have been ambiguous. This study extended this research by investigating ostracism as it occurs in daily life, focusing on people's reflective reactions to being ostracized in their daily lives and on the nature of the ostracism they experience. For 2 weeks, 40 participants (adults residing in the community) described what happened each time they felt ostracized using a diary method modeled after the Rochester Interaction Record (RIR; Wheeler & Nezlek, 1977). The questions in the diary were based on Williams's (2007) need-threat model of ostracism. Most ostracism episodes were from persons of equal status, and participants reported lower levels of belonging, control, self-esteem, and meaningful existence after being ostracized. Participants' needs were threatened more when friends or close others had ostracized them than when they had been ostracized by acquaintance and strangers, and they reacted more negatively to punitive, defensive, and oblivious ostracism as opposed to role based or ambiguous ostracism. This research suggests that the reflective effects of ostracism can vary as a function of who ostracizes someone and why people feel they have been ostracized.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)91-104
    Number of pages14
    JournalGroup Dynamics
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


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