Plugged in but not connected: Individuals' views of and responses to online and in-person ostracism

Kelly B. Filipkowski, Joshua M. Smyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


We conducted two studies to examine perceptions of, and reactions to, ostracism occurring either in-person or online. In study 1, participants read a vignette describing either in-person or online ostracism, then estimated their psychological and interpersonal responses as if they experienced such ostracism. Participants anticipated experiencing distress, and this was consistent across ostracism method. Ostracism method did predict negative affect (NA), with greater NA increases anticipated for in-person exclusion, compared to online. A significant interaction between gender and ostracism method predicted anticipated belonging. Males anticipated higher belonging in the in-person condition (relative to online); females anticipated more belonging in the online condition. In study 2, participants experienced in-person or online ostracism during a brief interaction with study confederates. Both conditions elicited similar reports of low inclusion, high exclusion, and significant decreases in positive and negative affect. Ostracism method qualified self-esteem (SE) results; chat room participants indicated an increase in SE following ostracism, whereas in-person participants reported a slight decrease. Males and females were similarly affected by both conditions. These studies demonstrate that online experiences of ostracism may be as meaningful as those experienced in person. Whether this finding generalizes to those with less technological familiarity should be examined further.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1241-1253
Number of pages13
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)


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