A Link to the Future: Ostracism's Effects on Aggressive Behavior
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Psychology Undergraduate Research Theses; 2020
Ostracized individuals, those who are excluded and ignored, respond with aggression towards others. But, research also suggest ostracism can instead lead to a prosocial reaction. It is possible that the response to ostracism could be moved towards one extreme (aggression) or the other (prosocial) if participants are first led to believe that their personality characteristics encourage these behaviors. Previous research indicates giving false feedback about one's personality characteristics (including aggression) can lead to changes in self-perception and performance on subsequent tasks. This study will examine how changing one's perceptions about their trait aggressive and prosocial tendencies will in turn affect current aggressive and prosocial responses to harmful social situations (i.e., ostracism). That is, if individuals are swayed to believe they can be aggressive, will that encourage them to actually be aggressive? The present study hypothesizes that those who are given a false future forecast of aggressive tendencies will be more tempted toward aggressive behaviors following ostracism than towards prosocial or neutral behaviors, whereas those given a false future forecast of prosocial tendencies will be more tempted toward prosocial than aggressive behaviors. Participants (n = 561) completed questionnaires assessing personality characteristics, then were randomly assigned to complete a recall task in either an ostracism (n = 267) or an inclusion (n = 294) condition. They then received two pieces of feedback: true feedback about one of their big five characteristics and false feedback about future aggressive, either physical aggression (n = 176) or social aggression (n = 188), or prosocial (n = 197) tendencies. Finally, participants completed measures of the negative response to ostracism (social pain, negative affect, fundamental needs) and the Tangram Help/Hurt Task to assess aggressive tendencies. Results indicated ostracism negatively affected fundamental needs, mood, and social pain compared to inclusion, but the false feedback 2 condition did not affect these outcomes. Few significant results were seen with aggressive responses following ostracism. Future research should examine whether participants need a direct target for aggressive tendencies following ostracism and if researchers need to create false aggressive and prosocial feedback that are equally believable to participants to see significant between-groups differences.
Academic Major: Psychology
OSU Newark student research grant
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