Social acceptance and rejection: The sweet and the bitter

For proof that rejection, exclusion, and acceptance are central to our lives, look no farther than the living room, says Nathan Dewall, a psychologist at the University of Kentucky. "If you turn on the television set, and watch any reality TV program, most of them are about rejection and acceptance," he says. The reason, DeWall says, is that acceptance—in romantic relationships, from friends, even from strangers—is absolutely fundamental to humans.

In a new paper published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, DeWall and coauthor Brad J. Bushman of Ohio State University review recent psychological research on and . "Although psychologists have been interested in close relationships and what happens when those relationships go awry for a very long time, it's only been about 15 yrs that have been doing this work on exclusion and rejection," DeWall says. The results have highlighted how central acceptance is to our lives.

DeWall thinks belonging to a group was probably helpful to our ancestors. We have weak claws, little fur, and long childhoods; living in a group helped early humans survive harsh environments. Because of that, being part of a group still helps people feel safe and protected, even when walls and clothing have made it easier for one man to be an island entire of himself.

But acceptance has an evil twin: rejection. Being rejected is bad for your health. "People who feel isolated and lonely and excluded tend to have poor physical health," DeWall says. They don't sleep well, their immune systems sputter, and they even tend to die sooner than people who are surrounded by others who care about them.

Being excluded is also associated with poor mental health, and exclusion and mental health problems can join together in a destructive loop. People with depression may face exclusion more often because of the symptoms of their disorder—and being rejected makes them more depressed, DeWall says. People with social anxiety navigate their world constantly worried about being socially rejected. A feeling of exclusion can also contribute to suicide.

Exclusion isn't just a problem for the person who suffers it, either; it can disrupt society at large, DeWall says. People who have been excluded often lash out against others. In experiments, they give people much more hot sauce than they can stand, blast strangers with intense noise, and give destructive evaluations of prospective job candidates. Rejection can even contribute to violence. An analysis of 15 school shooters found that all but two had been socially rejected.

It's important to know how to cope with rejection. First of all, "We should assume that everyone is going to experience rejection on a semi-regular basis throughout their life," DeWall says. It's impossible to go through your entire life with everyone being nice to you all the time. When you are rejected or excluded, he says, the best way to deal with it is to seek out other sources of friendship or acceptance. "A lot of times, people keep these things to themselves because they're embarrassed or they don't think it's that big of a deal," he says. But our bodies respond to rejection like they do to physical pain; the pain should be taken seriously, and it's fine to seek out support. "When people feel lonely, or when people feel excluded or rejected, these are things they can talk about," he says.

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Citation: Social acceptance and rejection: The sweet and the bitter (2011, August 13) retrieved 21 October 2019 from
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Aug 13, 2011
Reality Tv is retarded. I'd rather watch re-re-re-reruns of MASH.

Also, this guys insight is as yesterday as they come. His insights come off no better than some 1st yr paper over the subject.

Aug 13, 2011
Breakthrough research.

Aug 13, 2011
@nigmatic10 "Knowing" something because we think we have observed it is not the same as doing the scientific research. There are plenty of studies like this that show that our "commonsense" understanding of something is wrong, or full of baseless assumptions. That this study validates what we think we all know means this was a good study. Furthermore, some people wont' take an issue seriously until a study shows that the problem is consistent and widespread. Now psychologists can incorporate counseling on loneliness into their regular repertoire. And maybe somebody who reads this will realize that they are not unique or different from everybody else--a symptom of the problem--and seek aid and comfort from somebody who does not reject them. That's not yesterday--that's very much today.

Aug 13, 2011
A case in point is this very forum we're using. I think it's a fascinating sociological study of how men of varying ages, strangers who share a common interest in the sciences, relate to one another. The exchange of views goes beyond the topics of discussion, with wrangling for hierarchical dominance in 'rightness' with a scoring system that accounts for personality likes and dislikes, far from the ideas expressed. Personally, I think it's fantastic, and satisfies an ancient need for connection, like the discussions of Plato and Aristotle, with other minds grappling with similar quandaries that sometimes yields genuine answers. I'm happy to be 'accepted' and 'included' in this forum, even when targeted by opposing reactions.

Aug 13, 2011
This explains why so many won't challenge socialism, until a critical mass is achieved.
First it was talk radio that gave a voice to anti-socialist discussion and now it's the internet.

Aug 13, 2011
In the life sciences, the premise is:
Any social intercourse (about anything, anywhere, anytime, and anyone) whatever, has a biological advantage over no intercourse at all.

Really? Socialist tyranny is better than not have any social interaction?

Aug 14, 2011
Read a story somewhere about some form of crustacean, that after losing a competition to mate, will bury itself in the sand and it's brain produces so much of a certain anxiety causing neurotransmitter (I think it might have been cortisol - but I'm not 100% sure of that) that it actually killed itself by causing it's brain to shut down.

This story stuck with me because I have both General Anxiety Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder (which is basically just chronic PTSD).

It often feels like I'm being "attacked" by my brain when I'm under too much anxiety. My thoughts begin to attack each other.

It's really uncomfortable. At the worst moments, I've actually tried to kill myself through thought alone - thinking that if I could 'meditate' and increase levels of anxiety, it might choke my brain off and end my suffering. Didn't work though, I could never master that much control.

Aug 14, 2011
Life = 'Socialist tyranny'
Death = no social intercourse at all.

Socialist tyranny IS death.
No social intercourse is not death.

Aug 14, 2011
Your condition isn't hopeless, though, as a sufferer of something similar, I can attest to the eventual easing of its severity over time. That piece of information may not be helpful in the present, but I assure you, things get better. In the meantime, seek the things that have real meaning, which to me are love and imagination, all the rest is a construct of someone else's agenda. I hope I've been helpful.

Aug 14, 2011
'Exclusion isn't just a problem for the person who suffers it, either; it can disrupt society at large, DeWall says. People who have been excluded often lash out against others. In experiments, they give people much more hot sauce than they can stand, blast strangers with intense noise, and give destructive evaluations of prospective job candidates. Rejection can even contribute to violence. An analysis of 15 school shooters found that all but two had been socially rejected."
This is the part I find worrisome with our present political regime. Recall the response to the attack on the member of Congress in Tucson. The immediate, popular reaction was to attack those who opposed the current political regime.
That did not happen when a biology professor was rejected by her peers at the University of Alabama Huntsville a few years ago.

Aug 14, 2011
Life = 'Socialist tyranny'
Death = no social intercourse at all.

Hush, you created the term, you define it.
What do you mean by 'social intercourse'?

Aug 16, 2011
Hush, what is 'social relation' to you?
Of course a male and female are needed to begin a family unit.
Did you know that in the final communist days of Romania, the socialist tyrant banned birth control and tried to promote his victims to have more children. They did, but then didn't have the resources to care for them, because of their communist economy. That's why there were so many Romanian orphans for adoption. After communist rule, that leader was executed.
So, is that kind of social relation better than death?

VD, why do you keep asking the same question? I gave my answer many days ago. Since all you can do is insult, why should I bother?

Aug 18, 2011
VD, why are you so consumed by hate? I'm waiting for your answer?

Aug 18, 2011
Hush, can you agree some forms of social interaction are deadly?
The Stalinist state of North Korea or the Khmer Rouge for example.
Sensory deprivation is not equivalent to social interaction.
There are people who survive and thrive without being around other humans.

Aug 19, 2011
Even the most deadly and detrimental political forms of life adhere to biological absolutes.

If you mean by 'adhere' they accept and understand the laws of nature, that is not correct.
Socialists beleive they do not have to follow the laws of nature. Which why those systems fail.

Aug 19, 2011
ALL systems stemming from humans fail.

Now you need to define 'fail'.
A system that respects individual liberty and respects personal property rights has been demonstrated to succeed, not fail.

Aug 19, 2011
"As a result of expanding cooperation, human beings compete to produce, not to consume (as other animals do). Mises expressed this with my favorite sentence in Human Action: The fact that my fellow man wants to acquire shoes as I do, does not make it harder for me to get shoes, but easier. The expansion of cooperation also necessarily means we can deal with strangers at great distance a further incentive for peace."
"We libertarians might have an easier time persuading others if we emphasized that freedom produces ever-more innovative ways to cooperate for mutual benefit and that when government dominates life, social cooperation is imperiled."

Aug 20, 2011
Any system stemming from humans that is static will fail.

Now you added static.
What human system is ever static?
There is no political human system 'equation' that holds true always,

Systems that are based upon recognizing the inherent, unalienable rights of the individual human have been demonstrated not to fail. This is a fundamental principle of the 'equation'.

Aug 20, 2011
Hush, why haven't you committed suicide if failure is your life?

Aug 20, 2011
Suicide is not a part of life. Suicide is a part of death.

Failure and failing belongs to life.
Success and succeeding belongs to life.

R2, why do you ask this question?

NOW you say success is part of life when earlier all you could say is that to be human is to FAIL.

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