In 7 experiments, the authors manipulated social exclusion by telling people that
they would end up alone later in life or that other participants had rejected them.
Social exclusion caused a substantial reduction in prosocial behavior. Socially excluded
people donated less money to a student fund, were unwilling to volunteer for further
lab experiments, were less helpful after a mishap, and cooperated less in a mixed-motive
game with another student. The results did not vary by cost to the self or by recipient
of the help, and results remained significant when the experimenter was unaware of
condition. The effect was mediated by feelings of empathy for another person but was
not mediated by mood, state self-esteem, belongingness, trust, control, or self-awareness.
The implication is that rejection temporarily interferes with emotional responses,
thereby impairing the capacity for empathic understanding of others, and as a result,
any inclination to help or cooperate with them is undermined.
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