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On Social Death: Ostracism and the Accessibility of Death Thoughts

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Being rejected, excluded, or simply ignored is a painful experience. Ostracism researchers have shown its powerful negative consequences (Williams, 2007), and sociologists have referred to such experiences as social death (Bauman, 1992). Is this is just a metaphor or does being ostracized make death more salient in people's minds? An experiment was conducted in which participants experienced ostracism or inclusion using the Cyberball manipulation, and the accessibility of death-related thoughts was measured via a word-stem completion puzzle. Results showed enhanced death-thought accessibility in the ostracism condition, as well as a negative effect of dispositional self-esteem on the accessibility of death-related thoughts.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, New School for Social Research, New York, New York, USA

Publication date: January 2, 2015

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