When One Is Ostracized, Others Loom: Social Rejection Makes Other People Appear Closer

Shane Pitts, John Paul Wilson, Kurt Hugenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Social rejection causes a host of interpersonal consequences, including increases in reaffiliative behaviors. In two experiments, we show that reaffiliation motivation stemming from rejection biases perceptions of one's distance from a social target, making others seem closer than they are. In Experiment 1, participants who had written about rejection underthrew a beanbag when the goal was to land it at the feet of a new interaction partner, relative to control participants. In Experiment 2, rejected participants provided written underestimates of the distance to a person relative to control participants, but only when the target was a real person, and not a life-sized cardboard simulation of a person. Thus, using multiple manipulations of social rejection, and multiple measures of distance perception, this research demonstrates that rejection can bias basic perceptual processes, making actual sources of reaffiliation (actual people), but not mere images of people, loom toward the self.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-557
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • affiliation
  • distance perception
  • motivated perception
  • rejection
  • social exclusion


Dive into the research topics of 'When One Is Ostracized, Others Loom: Social Rejection Makes Other People Appear Closer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this