The effects of ostracism on self-regulation in the socially anxious

Megan Oaten*, Kipling D. Williams, Andrew Jones, Lisa Zadro

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    155 Citations (Scopus)


    Ostracism is readily detected and results in a number of negative reactions. For example, social exclusion is argued to interfere with self-regulation. Some recent work found that the negative effects of ostracism are more pronounced and prolonged in socially anxious people. Based on these findings we tested whether: (1) ostracism impairs self-regulation, and (2) such impairment persists longer in socially anxious people, as classified through the Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale (FNE). In Study 1, we found that relative to included participants (nonostracized controls), ostracized participants reported higher felt ostracism and ate more unhealthy but palatable biscuits at Time 1. After a 45-minute delay, only ostracized participants with higher levels of social anxiety reported continued felt ostracism and excessive eating. Similarly, in Study 2, self-regulation was defined as consuming an unpleasant, but healthy, beverage. We again observed a pattern of prolonged regulatory impairment only for ostracized socially anxious participants. Implications for the long-term impact of the exclusion of the socially anxious are discussed, as are the limitations of relying on the FNE as the sole measure of social anxiety.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)471-504
    Number of pages34
    JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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