Being ostracized, or separated and rejected socially, is an experience with which nearly everyone is confronted at some point in their life, and recently, a group of researchers from the University of Kent decided to investigate whether that life-point itself is important in predicting a negative reaction. The researchers worked with three groups of participants; one was aged eight and nine years old, another group included thirteen and fourteen year olds, and a third was populated by twenty year olds. Together with the adolescent and adult groups, the children were given a computer game to play involving the passing of a ball. In various experiments, the participants were either included in the game by the other participants, or were eventually left out, an experience designed to simulate ostracism.
The study found that the experience of ostracism had a negative impact on the basic emotional needs of all three of the participating groups; this data was gathered through the administering of surveys asking participants about their self-esteem, feeling of belonging, meaning, and control. The children, however, showed a heightened sensitivity to the experience, being more deeply affected by ostracism. While the researchers noted that this data could show how important a role ostracism can play within a child’s life, they also pointed out that the children were able to restore their basic emotional needs when involved in a subsequent game in which they were included. This suggests that identifying and exploring ostracism when it happens during childhood can have profoundly positive effects for emotional well-being. Through conducting further study into the social interactions and reactions of youth, researchers may be able to enhance the quality of life of many young people.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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