People sometimes find themselves in a situation where they don’t quite fit in, and they are cast aside by others that do. It hurts that person’s feelings to know they are being pushed away from others. A new study finds that it also hurts the people doing the pushing, as it is not in our nature to exclude others.
Published in the journal Psychological Science, the study followed people as they played a computer game called Cyberball. In this computer game all they would do was throw a ball to another person.
In the beginning of the experiment, they researchers told the participant that they were playing this computer game against two other live people in different rooms, but it was really just a computer. Sometimes the participant was instructed not to throw the ball to one of the players in the computer. Other participants were told to throw the ball equally to the two, and others were given no instructions at all.
The researchers found that while doing this, the participant that was told not to throw the ball to a specific person came out of the experiment in a worse mood than the other two groups. They also did a study on people who were playing the game but didn’t get the ball thrown to them. Their mood was similar to the person who was instructed not to throw the ball to someone.
Previous studies have shown that people feel a disconnect when they are ignored or ostracized by others, even if the person they are being ignored by is a stranger. They also found that people who are ignored online, such as on Facebook, felt just the same as they would if it were person to person contact.