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The social pain of Cyberball: decreased pupillary reactivity to exclusion cues

Sleegers, Willem W. A., Proulx, Travis ORCID: and van Beest, Ilja 2017. The social pain of Cyberball: decreased pupillary reactivity to exclusion cues. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 69 , pp. 187-200. 10.1016/j.jesp.2016.08.004

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A heavily investigated topic in the ostracism literature is the manner in which being ostracized impacts immediate psychophysiological reactivity. Despite the prevalence of this research, it is still unclear which psychological mechanism underlies the immediate reaction to cues of ostracism. According to the social-physical pain overlap theory, cues to ostracism induce a social pain response akin to physical pain due to shared neurological substrates between social and physical pain. Alternatively, it is possible that the immediate reaction to ostracism reflects a conflict detection mechanism responding to a violation of the expectation that one should be socially included. In the present studies, we used pupillometry to distinguish the immediate reaction to ostracism in terms of it primarily representing a pain-oriented response or a conflict-detection response. We continuously measured the pupillary reaction during games of Cyberball, which contained social inclusion events (a ball thrown to the participant) and exclusion events (a ball thrown to another player). We find that participants show a diminished pupillary reaction to cues of exclusion but not to cues of inclusion, consistent with the social-physical pain overlap theory.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0022-1031
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 January 2017
Date of Acceptance: 29 August 2016
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2022 10:07

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