When virtual contact is all you need: Subtle reminders of Facebook preempt social-contact restoration after exclusion



In the Internet age, people who feel alone can use online social media to restore a sense of social connectedness. In the present experiment, participants were either excluded or included in Cyberball, a virtual ball-tossing game. Afterwards, a Facebook icon or a control icon (Flash Player) was shown on the margin of a computer screen during a filler task. In the control condition, excluded (vs. included) participants subsequently expressed greater interest in social contact. This response to exclusion was absent after the subtle exposure to the Facebook icon. The effect of icon presentation was moderated by relational Facebook use: The interest in further social contact after exclusion was particularly low in participants who reported employing Facebook to maintain relationships to a greater (vs. lower) extent. In sum, our findings suggest that Facebook can dispense with compensatory affiliation attempts after exclusion, especially in more socially minded Facebook users. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.