Participation Matters: Psychological and Behavioral Consequences of Information Exclusion in Groups

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Abstract

Being out of the loop, or uninformed of information mutually known by others, is a common occurrence with potentially negative consequences. We manipulated whether participants experienced being in or out of the loop during a group problem-solving task. Compared to participants who were in the loop and able to contribute to the task, participants who experienced being out of the loop reported thwarted fundamental needs, decreased mood, reduced competence, and less liking of group members. Additionally, out-of-the-loop group members participated less. Mediation analyses showed that perceived participation accounted for the aforementioned deleterious effects for all dependent measures. Analyses of interaction content demonstrated that out-of-the-loop participants had relatively more positive experiences to the extent that they asked for suggestions and gave opinions and did not need to ask others for information or their opinions. Our results have implications for a variety of group settings and draw attention to even seemingly innocuous forms of everyday ostracism.

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