Rejection: Resolving the paradox of emotional numbness after exclusion

C. Nathan DeWall, Roy F. Baumeister, E. J. Masicampo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The need for positive and stable relationships is among the most basic and fundamental of human needs. Like the need for food, shelter, and sleep, the need to belong is deeply rooted within evolutionary history and has a profound influence on contemporary psychological processes (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). Given the fundamental nature of the need to belong, it would seem somewhat straightforward that social exclusion would cause dramatic increases in emotional distress. This increased emotion distress after social exclusion should, in turn, cause various behavioral responses. Despite the intuitive appeal of this hypothesized model, converging evidence points to an altered perspective regarding how people respond to social exclusion. Multiple studies have shown that the behavioral effects of social exclusion are quite large (Baumeister, Twenge, & Nuss, 2002; Buckley, Winkel, & Leary, 2004), but the emotional effects are frequently small or nonexistent. Socially excluded participants often report emotional states that do not differ from those of participants in accepted or control conditions (Baumeister, DeWall, Ciaracco, & Twenge, 2005; Gardner, Pickett, & Brewer, 2000; Twenge, Baumeister, Tice, & Stucke, 2001; Zadro, Williams, & Richardson, 2004). Psychologists are therefore confronted with a paradox as to why people respond to such a momentous event as social exclusion with relative emotional detachment and numbness.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFeeling Hurt in Close Relationships
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780511770548
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2009.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Rejection: Resolving the paradox of emotional numbness after exclusion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this