Summary: Social Exclusion Causes Distress in Brain

Studies have shown that social exclusion of any kind causes distress in the brain and registers in the same part of the brain that also responds to physical pain. This suggests that the need to be accepted as part of a social group is as important as avoiding other types of pain.

  • According to Science magazine, a study was recently conducted by researchers at UCLA on the effects of social exclusion and rejection. Through a created computer game, the test subjects were led to believe they were playing ball with two other players. At some point, the other players seemed to exclude the test subject from the game, making it appear the test subject had been suddenly rejected and blocked from playing with the group. Researchers noted that the shock and distress of this rejection registered in the same part of the brain that also responds to physical pain. The study also suggested that social exclusion of any kind would cause distress in the brain. This would suggest that the need to be accepted as part of a social group is as important to humans as avoiding other types of pain. One of the authors of the study also noted that the study suggests that the need for social inclusiveness is a deep-seated part of what it means to be human.1

1Does Rejection Hurt? An fMRI Study of Social Exclusion, Science Magazine, Vol. 302, No. 5643, October 10, 2003, pp. 290-292

 

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