Social exclusion causes self-defeating behavior

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2002 Sep;83(3):606-15. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.83.3.606.


Four experiments tested the idea that social exclusion leads to (unintentionally) self-defeating behavior. Exclusion was manipulated by telling some people that they were likely to end up alone later in life. This randomly assigned feedback caused people to take irrational, self-defeating risks (Experiments 1 and 2), choose unhealthy, rather than healthy, behaviors (Experiment 3), and procrastinate longer with pleasurable activities rather than practicing for an upcoming test (Experiment 4). A control group, who heard that their future would be marred by frequent accidents, did not show these self-defeating patterns. Thus, the effect goes beyond just hearing bad news. Emotional distress did not significantly mediate these effects across 3 different mood measures.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Female
  • Gambling / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rejection, Psychology*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / psychology*
  • United States