NOTES FOR SOCIAL OSTRACISM PRESENTATION – August 2014

Hello everyone! My name is Michael and today I will be talking to you about the dehumanising effects of social ostracism on others. This research study by Brock Bastian and Nick Haslam examined if there was a relationship between social exclusion and the experience of dehumanisation. They found that the people feeling ostracized saw themselves as less than human.

 

Social ostracism has many devastating psychological effects on a person, impacting on the fundamental need to belong, self-esteem and meaningfulness of their lives. It can also increase aggression, reduce pro-social behaviour and disrupt our sense of self within the community.

 

Dehumanisation is the concept of feeling and being treated as less than human. It is often associated with social disconnection with the individual being ignored, being treated with indifference and feeling displaced outside a circle of friends.

 

This study focused on two dimensions of humanness: human uniqueness and human nature. Human uniqueness is defined as distinguishing humans from other animals whereas human nature refers to attributes such as emotionality, warmth and cognitive flexibility. When humans are denied in these features, they often feel irrational, machine-like, cold and lacking of emotion.

 

The participants of the study were 71 undergraduate students ranging from 17 to 56 years. They each completed a questionnaire that asked them to remember a time in which they felt socially accepted, socially excluded or just an everyday interaction. The participants then spent 10-15 minutes writing about their experience and rated against four fundamental needs.

 

The data from the study was analysed using ANOVAs with the experimental condition being a between-subjects design. It was found that all four needs were strongly correlated. For the human nature traits, when compared to the inclusion and control conditions, participants rated themselves as having more negative traits than positive ones. Similar results were found for the human uniqueness condition.

 

The results from this study supported the prediction that people see themselves as less than human when socially excluded. The study also determined that when social connections are disrupted, our sense of humanity is also disrupted.

 

Whilst the study did support the predictions made, it also left some unanswered questions such as would the basic findings extend to other experimental manipulations of ostracism. Further studies would need to be conducted to explore this. Thank you.

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