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Invisible man: Exclusion from shared attention affects gaze behavior and self-reports


Böckler,  Anne
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands;
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Böckler, A., Hömke, P., & Sebanz, N. (2014). Invisible man: Exclusion from shared attention affects gaze behavior and self-reports. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5(2), 140-148. doi:10.1177/1948550613488951.

Social exclusion results in lowered satisfaction of basic needs and shapes behavior in subsequent social situations. We investigated participants’ immediate behavioral response during exclusion from an interaction that consisted of establishing eye contact. A newly developed eye-tracker-based “looking game” was employed; participants exchanged looks with two virtual partners in an exchange where the player who had just been looked at chose whom to look at next. While some participants received as many looks as the virtual players (included), others were ignored after two initial looks (excluded). Excluded participants reported lower basic need satisfaction, lower evaluation of the interaction, and devaluated their interaction partners more than included participants, demonstrating that people are sensitive to epistemic ostracism. In line with William’s need-threat model, eye-tracking results revealed that excluded participants did not withdraw from the unfavorable interaction, but increased the number of looks to the player who could potentially reintegrate them.