Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Joseph A. Vandello

Abstract

Social scientists have extensively examined ways of reducing negative feelings toward minority groups. However, no research has examined the ability for passive ostracism, the implicit exclusion of an individual by one's peers, to reduce such negative feelings despite evidence that such exclusion can yield similar positive benefits. The present study sought to address this deficit in the literature by exploring whether or not implicit ostracism by one's peers can cause a kind gesture by a stigmatized minority group member (gay men) to improve general perceptions of the associated group. A sample of 211 undergraduate students from the University of South Florida played a modified version of the online game Cyberball in which they were randomly assigned to be either included or excluded by ostensible partners. Subsequently, they were randomly assigned to play a second game in which they either cooperated with a gay male partner, cooperated with a straight male partner, or had no partner. Results indicated that, contrary to hypotheses, feelings toward gay men did not vary as a function of the Inclusion x Partner interaction. Exploratory results, however, suggest that ostracism may operate differently according to other individual difference variables. Suggestions for future research and limitations are discussed in light of these exploratory findings.

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