Ostracism and attachment orientation: Avoidants are less affected in both individualistic and collectivistic cultures

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Ostracism – being excluded and ignored – is painful and threatens needs for belonging, self-esteem, control and meaningful existence. Many studies have shown that immediate responses to ostracism tend to be resistant to moderation. Once ostracized individuals are able to reflect on the experience, however, personality and situational factors moderate recovery speed and behavioural responses. Because attachment orientation is grounded in perceptions of belonging, we hypothesized that attachment orientation would moderate both immediate and delayed reactions to laboratory-induced ostracism. Participants from individualistic or collectivistic cultures were either included or ostracized in a game of Cyberball, a virtual ball-toss game. In both cultures, we found that compared to more securely attached individuals, more avoidant participants were less distressed by ostracism, but more distressed by inclusion. It is suggested that over and beyond differences in culture, individuals who avoid meaningful attachment may be less affected by ostracism.

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