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Abstract

Ostracism is a painful event, which may lead to prolonged psychological distress. However, little is known about the mechanisms which may help people recover from such events. This study explored how people who are not chronically ostracised describe processing and coping with ostracism. Using a qualitative methodology, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 participants (age group: 18-59; 12 female) from different occupational status groups. Thematic analyses revealed four major themes within the data: participants' immediate reaction to ostracism (“reflex”), subsequent reflections (“reflection”), efforts to manage their behaviour (“regulation”), and capacities to cope following ostracism (“adjustment”). Intensity emerged as a superordinate theme whereby the closer the ostraciser was to the participant, the greater the negative impact. The findings suggested that although most people will experience pain or stress following ostracism, it is how such events are reflected upon and managed that will determine when it leads to distress. Furthermore, some people may be resilient to ostracism. However, this resistance may weaken if the ostraciser(s) are considered close to the person.

Keywords

Ostracism, Resilience, Attribution, Psychological Flexibility, Qualitative Research Methodology, Thematic Analysis, Coping

Author Bio(s)

Daniel Waldeck, MSc, is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology and Counselling at the University of Chichester, UK. His research focuses on exploring the mechanisms that may help people recover, or protect themselves, from the negative effects of ostracism. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Daniel Waldeck at, Department of Psychology and Counselling, University of Chichester, Chichester, PO19 6PE; Email: d.waldeck@chi.ac.uk.

Ian Tyndall, PhD, is a senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology and Counselling at the University of Chichester, UK. He is a cognitive psychologist and behaviour analyst, and his research interests are centered on examining the cognitive processes that may underlie the development and maintenance of clinical anxiety disorders. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Ian Tyndall at, Department of Psychology and Counselling, University of Chichester, Chichester, PO19 6PE; Email: i.tyndall@chi.ac.uk.

Nik Chmiel, PhD, is the Head of Psychology in the Department of Psychology and Counselling at the University of Chichester, UK. He is a Chartered Psychologist and Professor of Psychology. His research interests focus on psychology in the workplace, and include the psychology of job stress and wellbeing. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Nik Chmiel at, Department of Psychology and Counselling, University of Chichester, Chichester, PO19 6PE; Email: n.chmiel@chi.ac.uk.

Publication Date

10-19-2015

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

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