Replenishing connectedness: reminders of social activity reduce aggression after social exclusion.
ABSTRACT Previous research found that social rejection leads to increased aggression. How can this aggressive behaviour be prevented? Four experiments demonstrate that reminders of social activity reduce aggression after social exclusion. A brief, friendly social connection with an experimenter (versus a neutral interaction) reduced aggression after social rejection. A traditional mood induction had no effect on aggressive behaviour, showing that an activity must be social to be effective. Participants who wrote about a family member, a friend or a favourite celebrity were also not aggressive after rejection. The effect was mediated by trust in other people but not by state self-esteem or mood. Rejected participants who have an alternative source of social connection eschew the increased aggression usually displayed after social exclusion.