Cortisol Responses to Social Exclusion

Sally S. Dickerson and Peggy M. Zoccola

in The Oxford Handbook of Social Exclusion

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

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Cortisol Responses to Social Exclusion

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  • Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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Experiences of social exclusion, or contexts that create the potential for social exclusion, not only have potent psychological effects, but they can have physiological consequences as well. This chapter reviews research that has examined the effects of social exclusion, rejection, and social evaluation on cortisol, an important health-relevant hormone. Studies have demonstrated that acute experiences of social evaluation or interpersonal rejection can elicit cortisol reactivity, particularly when the evaluation is unambiguous and salient. Social evaluation or exclusion can also precipitate rumination, which could serve to maintain elevated cortisol levels in response to these threats. Chronic forms of social exclusion (e.g., loneliness, peer victimization) have been associated with dysregulated cortisol patterns. Prolonged experiences of social exclusion, evaluation, or rejection may lead to negative health consequences via extended exposure to cortisol or dysregulation in the system.

Keywords: cortisol; emotions; exclusion; rejection; rumination; self-conscious; social evaluation

Article.  6717 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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