An Application of Sociometer Theory to Online Social Exclusion and Reduced Intelligent Thought
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Research suggests that individuals suffer decrements in their complex cognitive processing abilities when exposed to social exclusion signals resulting from limited resources left-over after engaging in affect-regulation. This study attempts to replicate and extend these findings by exposing 108 participants to real-time conversations between their friends on social media. Additionally, this study applies sociometer theory as a theoretical framework to further understand if individuals process exposure to conversations between one’s friends online as social exclusion. After exposure to the stimuli, participants’ state self-esteem, degree of exclusion, positive and negative affect, and performance on a complex cognitive processing task, and trait belongingness were measured. Results suggest there were no significant differences in degree of exclusion or state self-esteem between conditions. However, degree of exclusion significantly mediated the relationship between trait belongingness and state self-esteem. Further, negative affect significantly mediated the relationship between state self-esteem and performance.