Ostracism and Stages of Coping

Eric D. Wesselmann and Kipling D. Williams

in The Oxford Handbook of Social Exclusion

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780195398700
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Ostracism and Stages of Coping

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  • Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology



Ostracism—being ignored and excluded—is a painful event that many individuals experience. Williams (2009) proposed a temporal model of ostracism, arguing that reactions to ostracism change over time. Individuals have reflexive reactions to ostracism, characterized by immediate distress and threat to various basic needs. Next, ostracized individuals enter the reflective stage, in which they strive to recover basic needs satisfaction. Individuals only enter the resignation stage if they experience chronic ostracism. Research has focused on the first two stages, but the resignation stage remains largely unexplored. The goal of this chapter is to generate future directions for research on each of the stages of ostracism, particularly the resignation stage. We propose that individuals in the resignation stage may be more likely to engage in maladaptive behaviors (e.g., extreme violence), than individuals who are not in the resignation stage. We close this chapter by speculating on potential intervention techniques to help individuals in the resignation stage cope with chronic ostracism.

Keywords: coping and recovery; need to belong; ostracism; social exclusion

Article.  7919 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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