Ostracized but why? Effects of attributions and empathy on connecting with the socially excluded

Michael J. Bernstein, Zhansheng Chen, Kai Tak Poon, Jacob A. Benfield, Henry K.S. Ng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The present research examined people’s responses towards others’ exclusion experience. The authors predicted that both causal attributions and empathy would mediate whether people affiliate with a victim of an ambiguous exclusion experience. Perceivers observing another’s exclusion (relative to inclusion) without clearly announced reasons chose to affiliate with the target and this was mediated by increased external attributions for the exclusion (Studies 1a, 1b, 2). When the attributions people made for the exclusion of a target was experimentally manipulated, internal attributions decreased desire for affiliation relative to external or ambiguous attributions, and this was mediated by differences in empathy for the target (Study 3). Further, external attributions arisen from perceiving a causally unclear exclusion leads to an empathetic response which results in an increased desire to affiliate with the target (Study 4). Future directions on perceptions of those who have been excluded are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0201183
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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