Adding injury to insult: unexpected rejection leads to more aggressive responses
Article first published online: 7 MAY 2010
© 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Volume 36, Issue 4, pages 232–237, July/August 2010
How to Cite
Wesselmann, E. D., Butler, F. A., Williams, K. D. and Pickett, C. L. (2010), Adding injury to insult: unexpected rejection leads to more aggressive responses. Aggr. Behav., 36: 232–237. doi: 10.1002/ab.20347
- Issue published online: 10 JUN 2010
- Article first published online: 7 MAY 2010
- Manuscript Accepted: 4 APR 2010
- Manuscript Received: 3 JUL 2009
- National Science Foundation under. Grant Number: 0519209
- social rejection;
- broken sociometer;
Previous research indicates that rejection by a group causes aggressive responses. However, in these previous studies, rejected participants were led to believe that they were liked and accepted before the rejection; likely, this rejection was highly unanticipated. Sociometer theory (Leary et al., 1995) proposes the existence of a psychological mechanism (a “sociometer”) that enables individuals to detect potential rejection via others' reactions; a properly working sociometer affords a person predictive control over an interaction. We hypothesized the lack of predictive control inherent in previous rejection studies was a critical contributor to participants' aggressive responses; predictive control should lead to decreased aggression. To test this, we manipulated predictive control by varying confederate behavior toward participants before a rejection manipulation. Results indicate that unpredictable rejection undermined participants' belief that they could predict other's behavior (i.e., led to the perception of a broken sociometer) and led to higher levels of aggression. Aggr. Behav. 36:232–237, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.