Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in General Psychology (MAGP)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. James H. Wirth

Second Advisor

Dr. F. Dan Richard

Department Chair

Dr. Michael Toglia

College Dean

Dr. Barbara A. Hetrick


In this current research I sought to answer two questions; 1) Do individuals have the capacity to recognize when they are being justly or unjustly socially excluded or conversely socially included? 2) Do the consequences of just and unjust social exclusion or social inclusion vary? In efforts to address these questions, I used perceptions of burden (i.e., participant’s overall contribution to a group task) to manipulate the perceived fairness of one’s inclusionary status to see how this affects the participants’ emotional and behavioral reactions.

In Study 1, participants engaged in an imaginary group interaction in which they were burdensome (performing worse than the group) or non-burdensome (performing equal to the group) on a group-task while either being included or rejected. For Study 2, participants were randomly assigned to be burdensome versus non-burdensome, in a similar fashion as Study 1, and then ostracized or included by confederate players in a computerized group word game (i.e., Atimia). Participants in both studies reported their levels of perceived justice, needs satisfaction, social pain, negative affect, and aggressive behavior temptations. Participants in Study 2 also completed a behavioral aggression measure (i.e., candy allocation task).

In Study 1, perceptions of justice had no impact on the consequences of social exclusion; rejected participants felt bad regardless of the fairness of their rejection. For included participants, unjust, compared to just, inclusion induced thwarted needs, increased social pain, negative affect, and aggressive behavior temptations (consequences similar to that of social exclusion). In Study 2 almost no differences emerged within the affective state of included individuals. Based primarily on the results of Study 1, it appears that burden may play a critical role in the ostracism experience. Further research is recommended to better understand this relationship.