Being ignored hurts, even by a stranger

(Medical Xpress) -- Feeling like you’re part of the gang is crucial to the human experience. All people get stressed out when we’re left out. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that a feeling of inclusion can come from something as simple as eye contact from a stranger.

Psychologists already know that humans have to feel connected to each other to be happy. A knitting circle, a church choir, or a friendly neighbor can all feed that need for connection. Eric D. Wesselmann of Purdue University wanted to know just how small a cue could help someone feel connected. He cowrote the study with Florencia D. Cardoso of the Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata in Argentina, Samantha Slater of Ohio University, and Kipling D. Williams of Purdue. “Some of my coauthors have found, for example, that people have reported that they felt bothered sometimes even when a hasn’t acknowledged them,” Wesselmann says. He and his authors came up with an experiment to test that.

The study was carried out with the cooperation of people on campus at Purdue University. A research assistant walked along a well-populated path, picked a subject, and either met that person’s eyes, met their eyes and smiled, or looked in the direction of the person’s eyes, but past them—past an ear, for example, “looking at them as if they were air,” Wesselmann says. When the assistant had passed the person, he or she gave a thumbs-up behind the back to indicate that another experimenter should stop that person. The second experimenter asked, “Within the last minute, how disconnected do you feel from others?”

People who had gotten from the research assistant, with or without a smile, felt less disconnected than people who had been looked at as if they weren’t there.

“These are people that you don’t know, just walking by you, but them looking at you or giving you the air gaze—looking through you—seemed to have at least momentary effect,” Wesselmann says. Other research has found that even being ostracized by a group you want nothing to do with, like the Ku Klux Klan, can make feel left out, so it’s not surprising that being pointedly ignored can have the same effect. “What we find so interesting about this is that now we can further speak to the power of human social connection,” Wesselmann says. “It seems to be a very strong phenomenon.”

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Jan 25, 2012
It's a feeling I know all too well...

Jan 25, 2012

Jan 25, 2012
Sure does, and the more intelligent you are the more average people are likely to ignore you...

Jan 25, 2012
Sure does, and the more intelligent you are the more average people are likely to ignore you...

Could not agree more.

Jan 25, 2012
This is detrimental and projection.
Contributing the negative reactions of complete strangers to something as positive as your superior mental internal state

It has to do with how similar you are. When two people meet and engage in conversation their similarities determine how well they get along and how much they have to talk about. If one person is 3 standard deviations above the other on the IQ scale they have very little in command and very little to talk about. Moreover, the one will become annoyed at the others inability to understand and the other will become annoyed at the formers "boring" topics of conversation that do not include the last sports game or the popular reality TV show...

Jan 25, 2012
It seems, being downvoted hurts less..

Jan 25, 2012
It seems, being downvoted hurts less..

I know that was a joke, but it's also a good point... any attention is better than no attention.

Jan 25, 2012
I know that was a joke, but it's also a good point... any attention is better than no attention.

Reminds me of the original series Star Trek episode "Dagger of the mind" :

MCCOY: Jim! (Kirk turns machine off)
KIRK: The power came on.
MCCOY: He's dead, Captain.
NOEL: The machine wasn't on high enough to kill.
KIRK: But he was alone. Can you imagine the mind emptied by that thing? Without even a tormentor for company.
NOEL: I understand.

from: http://www.chakot...k/11.htm

Jan 26, 2012
If you care about being liked, then be friendly to people (all people) regardless of their boring topics. Working in academia I meet lots of highly intelligent people who drone on about topics which simply aren't interesting to most people (often they seem oblivious to just how boring the topic is), but I remain friendly with them because I pretend to care. The same can be said for many other people (including me) in the world and their bizarre (IMO) interests. I would say if you truly have a high I.Q. you should also have some sense of empathy for your common man. If everyone was honest with each other all the time, we would all be as lonely as some of the whingers above sound :)

P.s. I am well aware that the way I worded that opinion will isolate me with some, but who cares on-line? So I expect someone to mark me 1 for this (probably the usual suspects), which if I follow some of the logic above correctly, must mean I am exceptionally intelligent and just not understood!

Jan 26, 2012
MacTool, I like your honesty. If I figure out how to rate comments, 5/5. It is amazing how much human interaction is affected by difference in "intelligence" but I think personality (though vague to me), and natural dispositions in that way is more significant. For me, the latest TV show and trivia seems arbitrary and completely of no lasting significance ... words words words ... this and that. What we need to talk about is truth.

Jan 29, 2012
I'm thinking of closing down Facebook.. I'm sick and tired of hearing from no one. Would be great if I had a friend or someone on the thing, but I have no one, and I'm so depressed... Maybe I'm on a bunch of block/hidden lists, or maybe I'm just being ignored.

Jan 30, 2012
I would say that good looks are far more likely to catch someones eye than some outward manifestation of your personality or intelligence.

Jan 31, 2012
I am clean, brush my teeth, take pride in appearance etc. I also spend time with family (as I have few, if any, close friends). But most of that is easier said than done. People only care about popularity and possessions these days. And whenever I find myself posting something on Facebook, it's like consistently talking to myself. In fact, that's what it's like in real-life too. People just don't want to listen, and yet, they expect you to listen to them. Especially the "popular" people.

Feb 01, 2012
I'm thinking of closing down Facebook.. I'm sick and tired of hearing from no one.

My wife and I closed ours down a few years ago. FB can become like a High School popularity contest. You basically have to whore yourself out to as many as possible to become popular.

We remade our Facebook a few months ago and now just keep close friends and family on it.

Also, not posting negative things all the time helps. Whiners and complainers tend to be ignored.

I understand where you are coming from however as I also have very few friends and people I want to talk to. That is a product of my personality/personal barriers I put up and not the fault of others.

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