Turning a blind eye to potential costs: Ostracism increases aggressive tendency

Kai Tak POON, Wing-Yan WONG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The current research aimed to examine the hypotheses that ostracism would promote aggression through reduced sensitivity to potential costs of aggression and that warning ostracized people about the costs of aggression would weaken their aggression. Method: Two experiments were conducted to test these predictions. In Experiment 1, participants first recalled either an ostracism or a neutral experience. Next, their perceived costs of aggression and aggressive tendency were assessed. In Experiment 2, participants were first either ostracized or included in a social interaction, and then they either received or did not receive a warning that aggressors would have to pay dire costs. Finally, their aggressive tendency was assessed. Results: The findings revealed that, compared with participants in the control condition, participants in the ostracism condition reported lower perceived costs of aggression and higher levels of aggression (Experiment 1). Moreover, reduced cost sensitivity mediated the effect of ostracism on aggression (Experiment 1). In addition, warning ostracized people about potential costs of aggression effectively weakened the causal linkage between ostracism and aggression (Experiment 2). Conclusion: Overall, these experiments provided novel insights into the significant role that cost sensitivity plays in aggressive and violent responses following ostracism. Copyright © 2018 American Psychological Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)634-643
JournalPsychology of Violence
Issue number6
Early online dateMay 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019


Poon, K.-T., & Wong, W.-Y. (2019). Turning a blind eye to potential costs: Ostracism increases aggressive tendency. Psychology of Violence, 9(6), 634-643. doi: 10.1037/vio0000195


  • Ostracism
  • Social exclusion
  • Rejection
  • Costs of aggression
  • Aggression


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