The effects of social exclusion on confirmatory information processing


Tobias Greitemeyer, Department of Psychology, University of Innsbruck, Innrain 52, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria.



After making a preliminary decision, a balanced search for information that is consistent and inconsistent with one's decision is associated with effective decision making. However, whereas searching for information that is inconsistent with one's preliminary preference arouses the aversive motivational state of cognitive dissonance, evokes negative emotions, and threatens the self, preference-consistent information reduces dissonance, evokes positive emotions, and has positive implications for the self. Thus, searching for information in a balanced way requires the willingness to face the negative implications of searching for preference-inconsistent (relative to preference-consistent) information. Social exclusion has been shown to be associated with impulsive, undercontrolled behavior. Therefore, we expected socially excluded (relative to included or control) participants to be less willing to confront oneself with the unappealing qualities of preference-inconsistent information and more willing to seek for the appealing qualities of preference-consistent information. This hypothesis was supported in two studies, with the use of different manipulations of social exclusion. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.