Atimia: A novel group-based paradigm for manipulating ostracism and group members' performance

James H. Wirth, Paul J. Turchan, Adam G. Zimmerman, Michael Jason Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Ostracism, being excluded and ignored, is a socially painful experience that can lead to distressing consequences, including thwarted basic needs satisfaction and worsened mood (Williams & Nida, 2011). Ostracism researchers have relied heavily on a single paradigm: Cyberball (Williams, Cheung, & Choi, 2000), and although Cyberball has been conducted successfully with over 5,000 participants, there are few alternative paradigms to replicate ostracism's effects. Specifically, no alternative paradigms utilize a group-based interaction in which players continuously interact to achieve a goal. Additionally, researchers have not incorporated a key characteristic of the group that influences satisfaction: the efficacy of a group to accomplish a task (i.e., burdensomeness). To address these issues, we designed Atimia, a group-based game in which players take turns completing word-association items. We manipulated computer-controlled agents to either ostracize or include participants and to be burdensome (i.e., perform poorly) or nonburdensome. We found participants felt worse when they were ostracized, compared with when they were included, and when playing with a burdensome versus nonburdensome group. Ostracism effect sizes were comparable with Cyberball and other alternative ostracism paradigms. Similar to previous ostracism research, a group characteristic (burdensomeness) did not buffer the effects of ostracism. Examining beyond the immediate ostracism effects, participants were more interested in continuing with a nonburdensome group that included them compared with a burdensome, but inclusive, group or a group that ostracized (regardless of group burdensomeness). Initial results suggest Atimia is a means to replicate ostracism's effects and is a new tool for researchers studying groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-266
Number of pages16
JournalGroup Dynamics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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