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      Under threat by popular vote: German-speaking immigrants’ affect and cognitions following the Swiss vote against mass immigration

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          A popular initiative in support of regulating future immigration to Switzerland was accepted by the electorate in 2014. Assuming that the initiative acted as an exclusionary threat for current immigrants of Switzerland, we conducted an online survey among a sample of highly-skilled German-speaking immigrants (“expats”). Participants reported having experienced negative affect following the vote. Moreover, having a more left-wing orientation, living in a political constituency that had voted pro-regulation and having proportionally few Swiss friends positively predicted negative affect following the vote. Negative affect was associated with a reported negative change in one’s attitudes towards Switzerland, increased considerations to leave the country, and impaired satisfaction with life. In sum, the results suggest that a powerful exclusionary threat such as a national vote may be experienced as distressful by highly-skilled immigrants currently living in the country.

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          Does rejection hurt? An FMRI study of social exclusion.

          A neuroimaging study examined the neural correlates of social exclusion and tested the hypothesis that the brain bases of social pain are similar to those of physical pain. Participants were scanned while playing a virtual ball-tossing game in which they were ultimately excluded. Paralleling results from physical pain studies, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) was more active during exclusion than during inclusion and correlated positively with self-reported distress. Right ventral prefrontal cortex (RVPFC) was active during exclusion and correlated negatively with self-reported distress. ACC changes mediated the RVPFC-distress correlation, suggesting that RVPFC regulates the distress of social exclusion by disrupting ACC activity.
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            A brief social-belonging intervention improves academic and health outcomes of minority students.

            A brief intervention aimed at buttressing college freshmen's sense of social belonging in school was tested in a randomized controlled trial (N = 92), and its academic and health-related consequences over 3 years are reported. The intervention aimed to lessen psychological perceptions of threat on campus by framing social adversity as common and transient. It used subtle attitude-change strategies to lead participants to self-generate the intervention message. The intervention was expected to be particularly beneficial to African-American students (N = 49), a stereotyped and socially marginalized group in academics, and less so to European-American students (N = 43). Consistent with these expectations, over the 3-year observation period the intervention raised African Americans' grade-point average (GPA) relative to multiple control groups and halved the minority achievement gap. This performance boost was mediated by the effect of the intervention on subjective construal: It prevented students from seeing adversity on campus as an indictment of their belonging. Additionally, the intervention improved African Americans' self-reported health and well-being and reduced their reported number of doctor visits 3 years postintervention. Senior-year surveys indicated no awareness among participants of the intervention's impact. The results suggest that social belonging is a psychological lever where targeted intervention can have broad consequences that lessen inequalities in achievement and health.
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              Why does social exclusion hurt? The relationship between social and physical pain.

              The authors forward the hypothesis that social exclusion is experienced as painful because reactions to rejection are mediated by aspects of the physical pain system. The authors begin by presenting the theory that overlap between social and physical pain was an evolutionary development to aid social animals in responding to threats to inclusion. The authors then review evidence showing that humans demonstrate convergence between the 2 types of pain in thought, emotion, and behavior, and demonstrate, primarily through nonhuman animal research, that social and physical pain share common physiological mechanisms. Finally, the authors explore the implications of social pain theory for rejection-elicited aggression and physical pain disorders.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                13 April 2017
                26 April 2017
                : 12
                : 4
                : e0175896
                [1 ]Department of Psychology, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
                [2 ]Department of Psychology, University of Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany
                Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, SWITZERLAND
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                • Conceptualization: SR SJ RG.

                • Data curation: SR SJ.

                • Formal analysis: SR SJ.

                • Funding acquisition: SR RG.

                • Investigation: SR.

                • Methodology: SR SJ RG.

                • Project administration: SR RG.

                • Resources: SR SJ RG.

                • Software: SR SJ.

                • Supervision: SR RG.

                • Validation: SR SJ.

                • Visualization: SR SJ.

                • Writing – original draft: SR SJ RG.

                • Writing – review & editing: SR SJ RG.

                Author information
                © 2017 Rudert et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                : 4 May 2016
                : 2 April 2017
                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 2, Pages: 21
                The authors received no specific funding for this work.
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