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K. D. Williams (2009) theorized that chronic social exclusion would inescapably lead to a detrimental stage of resignation, characterized by depression, alienation, unworthiness, and helplessness. However, few studies empirically addressed this assumption. Considering immigrants as a population at risk of persistent exclusion, we investigated how social connections with the native-born majority and other immigrant minorities moderate the exclusion–resignation link. In Study 1 ( N = 112 asylum seekers), participants mainly connected with other immigrants showed a significant association between chronic exclusion and resignation. Crucially, this link vanished for people with social connections mainly composed of native people. In Study 2, we replicated and extended these results running secondary analyses on a data set of 2,206 immigrants (CILS4EU). This work, suggesting that the exclusion–resignation link can be moderated by social factors, highlighted the relevance of immigrants’ connections with the native majority for counteracting the risk of segregation when tackling the social issue of immigrants’ everyday exclusion.
Running head: Social exclusion & intergroup connections in immigrants
This is an original manuscript / preprint of an article published by SAGE Journals in
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations on the 22nd of January 2020, available online at:
How intergroup social connections shape immigrants’ responses to social exclusion
Marco Marinucci & Paolo Riva
University of Milano-Bicocca
Author Notes
This work was supported by a Grant from the Italian non-profit organization
“Fondazione Roberto Franceschi ONLUS.” Correspondence concerning this article
should be addressed to Marco Marinucci, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of
Psychology, Piazza Ateneo Nuovo, 1, 20126 Milano (Italy). E-mail:
Keywords: social exclusion, immigrants, social connections, intergroup relations.
Williams (2009) theorized that chronic social exclusion would inescapably lead to a
detrimental stage of resignation, characterized by depression, alienation, unworthiness,
and helplessness. However, few studies empirically addressed this assumption.
Considering immigrants as a population at-risk of persistent exclusion, we investigated
how social connections with the native-born majority and other immigrant minorities
moderated the exclusion-resignation link. In Study 1 (N=112 asylum seekers),
participants mainly connected with other immigrants showed a significant association
between chronic exclusion and resignation. Crucially, this link vanished for people with
social connections mainly composed of native people. In Study 2, we replicated and
extended these results running secondary analyses on a dataset of 2206 immigrants
(CILS4EU). This work, suggesting that the exclusion–resignation link can be moderated
by social factors, highlighted the relevance of immigrants’ connections with the native
majority in opposing the risks of segregation when tackling the social issues of
immigrants’ everyday exclusion.
How intergroup social connections shape
immigrants’ responses to social exclusion
Human beings have a pervasive drive to form and maintain at least a minimum
quantity of lasting, positive, and significant interpersonal relationships.
(Baumeister & Leary, 1995, p. 497)
The classic quote cited above summarizes the fundamental aspects of the
belongingness hypothesis (Baumeister & Leary, 1995) according to which the daily
motivation of individuals towards social connections is based on psychological need.
People need to achieve a minimum quantity and quality of social connections, and they
require those connections to be frequent, pleasant, stable, and close. A key prediction of
the belongingness hypothesis is that a lack of satisfaction of the need to belong is
associated with a wide range of negative consequences, including low psychological well-
being (Lieberman, 2013) and increased mortality (Rubin, 2017; House, Landis &
Umberson, 1988). Psychologically, an unmet need to belong has been linked with the loss
of meaning in life (Stillman et al., 2009), impaired self-regulation (Baumeister, DeWall,
Ciarocco & Twenge, 2005) and feelings of depression (Wong et al., 2016). Physically,
people with poor social connections are more likely to suffer from several diseases (see
for a review Aldridge et al., 2018), dysfunctions in cardiovascular activation and cortisol
level and to report poor sleep quality (Cacioppo et al., 2002).
Most of the experiences that threaten individuals need to belong can be
conceptualized as social exclusion. Social exclusion has been broadly defined as the
experience of being kept apart from others physically (e.g., segregation) or emotionally
(e.g., being ignored or told one is not wanted; Riva & Eck, 2016). The literature on social
exclusion identified two main instances of exclusion: rejection and ostracism
(Wesselmann & Williams, 2017). In episodes of rejection, people receive direct negative
attention from others, and they experience a relational devaluation and the suggestion that
they are not wanted (Wesselmann et al., 2016). Rejection may take the form of
dehumanizing language (Andrighetto, Riva, Gabbiadini, & Volpato, 2016),
discrimination or stigmatization (Smart Richman, Martin, & Guadagno, 2016) or
microaggressions brief, subtle, everyday comments, insults and discriminating
behaviors (Constantine, 2007; Sue et al., 2007). In contrast, when ostracized, people
experience being ignored by others (Williams, 2009). The perception of being ignored
may arise from verbal and nonverbal cues such as being forgotten (King & Geise, 2011),
not being given eye contact (Nezlek, Wesselmann, Wheeler, & Williams, 2012), or being
part of a conversation with people talking in an unspoken language (i.e., linguistic
ostracism; Dotan-Eliaz, Sommer, & Rubin, 2009).
Perceived and objective chronic social exclusion
Social exclusion can be both an objective and a subjective state. The condition of
a prisoner in solitary confinement is easily recognizable as an objective condition of social
exclusion. Exclusion is in this case defined by the actual impossibility to connect with
others because of the walls of the cell. Leaving aside this case, we can consider the life
experience of members of groups like homeless and immigrants as likely conditions of
objective social exclusion. For members of these groups, it is often difficult to form and
maintain stable relations with the members of other groups (e.g., the majority). Moreover,
considering the sociometric tradition, we can consider the peer nomination measures in
schools to be an objective index of how other people judge the inclusionary status of a
specific target (nominating the target as popular rather than the person nobody wants to
affiliate with) within a given class (e.g., Tobia, Riva, & Caprin, 2017). In all these cases,
the physical and social contexts define the actual occurrence of social exclusion.
However, it is not necessary to experience an actual lack of social connections to
feel excluded because social exclusion can be just a subjective experience (see Riva,
Wesselmann, Wirth, Carter-Sowell, & Williams, 2014). Previous research has shown that
people with borderline personality disorder feel excluded even when objectively included
in an interaction (De Panfilis, Riva, Preti, Cabrino, & Marchesi, 2015). Moreover,
loneliness has been defined as perceiving a lack of social connections regardless of their
actual presence (Hawkley, & Cacioppo, 2010). In these cases, people perceive social
exclusion without the need to consider whether such perception has an objective basis.
In sum, there are cases in which being excluded and feeling excluded go hand in
hand. However, there are also cases in which the two are dissociated, either because
people feel excluded when they are not (as in the case of borderline personality disorder)
or because they do not feel excluded when they are. These associations and dissociations
make the study of social exclusion, which can examine both actual experiences and
subjective states, particularly fascinating.
Temporal Need-Threat Model of Ostracism
Following the work of Baumeister and Leary (1995), the most comprehensive
theoretical models conceptualizing social exclusion effects is the Temporal Need-Threat
Model of Ostracism (Williams, 2009). Williams analyzed the behavioral and
psychological reactions of targets of ostracism, focusing on the temporal development of
their responses. At first, the individuals realize they have been ostracized. The detection
happens quickly and crudely, as social exclusion is an evolutionary threat for human
survival that endangers individuals’ group membership. In this stage, called the reflexive
stage, the targets of ostracism feel negative emotions and they experience a threat to four
fundamental needs: belonging, self-esteem, control and meaningful existence/ need for
recognition. Subsequently, in the reflective stage, individuals appraise the meaning, the
motives and the relevance of the episode of exclusion, preparing to behave in ways that
will reestablish optimal levels of the most saliently threatened needs. Individuals will
react prosocially (DeWall, 2010) when inclusionary needs (i.e., belonging and self-
esteem) are the most threatened. They will react antisocially (Twenge, Baumeister, Tice,
& Stucke, 2001) when power and provocation needs (i.e., control and recognition) are the
most threatened. Social withdrawal could also be a third behavioral response that people
may exhibit according to their disposition (i.e., preference for solitude; Ren, Wesselmann,
& Williams, 2016) and the situation’s cognitive appraisal (e.g., low expectations of
reinclusion; Smart Richman & Leary, 2009).
The last stage of Williams’ model (2009) is the resignation stage. When episodes
of social exclusion persist over time, people’s resources necessary to refortify the
threatened needs become depleted over time, and they enter a psychological condition
characterized by feelings of resignation. Among people exposed to persistent social
exclusion, thwarted belongingness could develop into alienation, self-esteem into
depression, reactance into learned helplessness, and attempts to prove their worthiness
into feelings of unworthiness (Williams, 2009).
Because of the challenges of investigating chronic social exclusion empirically
(e.g., difficulties of reaching a chronically excluded sample), only a few qualitative
(Williams, 2001; Williams & Zadro, 2001; Zadro, 2004) and quantitative studies (Riva,
Montali, Wirth, Curioni, & Williams, 2016) have focused on this research topic. The
available studies suggest that the outcomes associated with the resignation stage (i.e.,
alienation, depression, helplessness, and unworthiness) are the psychological responses
typically observed in populations experiencing persistent exclusion. Nevertheless, the
resignation stage remains the part of Williams’ model that has received less empirical
attention (Wesselmann & Williams, 2017). Although Williams envisioned a direct and
univocal link between experiences of prolonged ostracism over time and the resignation
stage, we argue that individual or situational variables may moderate the association
between chronic exclusion and resignation. In this regard, to our knowledge, no study so
far has explored the possibility that variables can modulate the development of the
outcomes associated with the resignation stage in chronically excluded populations.
Social exclusion in immigrants
Because of their group membership, many people worldwide experience social
exclusion for a prolonged period like, for instance, people with mental and physical
disabilities, the homeless, and prisoners (Williams, 2009). Among these groups,
immigrants are at risk of experiencing persistent episodes of social exclusion for different
reasons. First, the process of relocation often implies several losses in which close social
connections and relatedness to others are often disrupted (Bennett, Boshoff, & Rigby,
1997). Immigrants may experience separation from the family, friends, work, and living
context of their country of origin (Saldana, 1992; Yakushko, Watson, & Thompson,
2008). They may struggle with establishing new social relationships (Ammons, Nelson,
& Wodarski, 1982; Berry, 1992), with being involved in the new community (Munton &
Forster, 1990), with adapting to new lifestyles and learning new languages (Stack, 1981).
As psychological responses, immigrants may feel isolated (Rothberg, 1991), lonely, and
uprooted, with a sense of not belonging to anywhere or to anybody (Keyes & Kane, 2004).
Second, decades of studies have shown how members of majority groups can
develop stereotypes, prejudice, and racism that can turn into discriminating,
dehumanizing, and aggressive behaviors towards ethnic minorities, targeting groups like
immigrants with exclusionary threats (Brown, 2011; Williams, Neighbors, & Jackson,
2003; Tsuda, 1998, Verkuyten, 1998; Brigham, 1971; Jones, 1997; Esses, Medianu, &
Lawson, 2013). Mullen and Rice (2003) showed how immigrant groups are exposed to
both direct (e.g., lower admission and naturalization rates) and indirect (e.g.,
discriminating public portrayals) forms of social exclusion. Sue (2010) showed how
ethnic minorities are targeted with persistent microaggressions in daily interpersonal
interactions that communicate hostile, derogatory and rejecting messages. The negative
consequences of race-related exclusionary threats (e.g., perceived ethnic discrimination)
on physical and psychological health have been well demonstrated via meta-analytic
reviews and empirical research (Sue, 2010; Pascoe, & Smart Richman, 2009; Schmitt,
Branscombe, Postmes, & Garcia, 2014).
Intergroup connections in immigrants
The relocation stressors and hostility of the hosting communities can expose
immigrants to persistent social exclusion, but conditions may exist that buffer its negative
effects. Researchers working on domains related to social exclusion (e.g., perceived
discrimination) found several individual and contextual moderators mitigating or
worsening the negative impacts of social threats in disadvantaged social groups. Authors
found that poverty and low socioeconomic status worsened the negative impact of
perceived ethnic discrimination (Miller, Rote, & Keith, 2003), whereas social (Cohen &
Wills, 1985) and ethnic support (Noh & Kaspar, 2003) protected from its negative
consequences. Individual factors such as a pessimistic outlook on life (Kaiser, Major, &
McCoy, 2004) and emotion-focused coping strategies (Noh & Kaspar, 2003) increased
the negative consequences of exclusionary threats, whereas religious activities (Bierman,
2006) and problem-oriented coping strategies (Noh & Kaspar, 2003) were found to be
protective factors.
Considering the work of Baumeister and Leary (1995), we reasoned that another
important factor that could moderate the relationship between experiences of social
exclusion and their related negative consequences in immigrants is the quantity and
quality of social connections, focusing on connections with different social groups (i.e.,
majority and minority). However, according to the main research traditions of social
capital and intergroup contact related to intergroup connections in immigrants, the
available picture is fuzzy.
The research on social capital showed that individuals’ social networks and the
resources channeled in them are involved in different areas of societal development
(Szreter & Woolcock, 2004). Putnam (2000) discriminated between bonding and bridging
social capital. Bonding capital refers to relationships with similar ones (e.g., same social
identities), and it provides strong ties (Granovetter, 1973) essential for the ingroup
cohesion and support (Putnam & Gross, 2002; Walseth, 2008). Bridging capital refers to
relationships with dissimilar others (e.g., people with different ethnic background), and
it allows the group to access external resources necessary for the integration into the wider
society (Granovetter, 1973). If bonding permits the “getting by,” bridging is crucial for
“getting ahead” (Putnam, 2000, p.23). Many authors agreed that the bridging capital is
more important for the integration into the wider society, given that it diminishes ingroup
bias and fosters intergroup trust (Marschall & Stolle, 2004), whereas the bonding capital
carries the risk for minorities to close within their community at the expense of their wider
social integration (Uslaner & Conley, 2003). The generally shared argument is that
bridging is more likely to generate positive outcomes than bonding (Coffé & Geys, 2007).
However, previous research underlined the importance of like-ethnic groups for
asylum seekers and refugees social integration (Hale, 1993; Duke, Sales, & Gregory,
1999) and health (Beiser, 1993). Ager and Strang (2008) found that both social bridges
and bonds were fundamental means for refugees integration. Others found that bonding
and bridging capital were associated with better mental health (Poortinga, 2012), even if
the effect of the bonding capital was reduced for ethnic minorities compared to white
people (Kim, Subramanian, & Kawachi, 2006). Oppositely, Mitchell and LaGory (2002)
found that bonding capital among racially-segregated communities was associated with
higher psychological distress. At a socio-economic level, Muller (1998) found that ethnic
enclaves had positive effects on immigrants’ employment. By contrast, Lancee (2012)
found that immigrants’ bridging capital was associated with positive labor indicators,
whereas ethnic bonding showed a non-significant or even negative association with them.
Overall the literature on the outcomes of the bonding capital of minorities at-risk
of social exclusion appears conflicting: some argued that it can benefit immigrants with
the expression of their identity and the maintenance of their cultural roots (Ager & Strang,
2008), whereas others stated that it especially when the bridges are lacking (Villalonga-
Olives & Kawachi, 2017) can lock immigrants in ethnic niches that impede the access
to the societal resources, the upward social mobility, and the broader social integration
(Portes, 1995; Ryan, Sales, Tilki, & Siara, 2008).
The literature relying on the intergroup contact theory (Allport, 1954) showed
that different types of intergroup social connection could generate conflicting outcomes.
In general, it has shown that intergroup social contacts might positively affect minority
groups’ psychological well-being while facing an exclusionary threat. Bagci and
Turnuklu (2018) found that social contacts with majority members were associated with
better psychological well-being among minorities. Others found that friendship with
majority-group peers buffered minority students from the lack of belongingness and life
satisfaction resulting from expected race-based rejection (Mendoza-Denton, & Page-
Gould, 2013), and it reduced cortisol reactivity in people with high expectations of race-
based rejection (Page-Gould, Mendoza-Denton, & Troop, 2008). Cross-ethnic
friendships served as a protective mechanism against the negative psychological
consequences of negative contact (Paolini et al., 2014). Relatedly, several studies
demonstrated that cross-group friendships and contact with majority-group members
might benefit minority students with increased positive academic attitudes (Cardinali,
Migliorini, Andrighetto, Rania, & Visintin, 2016), skills (Saenz, Ngai, & Hurtado, 2007),
and results (Shook & Fazio, 2008; Wölfer, Caro, & Hewstone, 2019).
In contrast with previous findings, Brenick, Schachner, and Jugert (2018) found
that cross-ethnic friendships with majority group peers exacerbated the negative
consequences of perceived discrimination in ethnic minority students. They also found
that cross-ethnic friendships with other minorities, particularly when perceived support
for interethnic connections in classrooms was low, worsened the negative consequences
of perceived discrimination. Differently, other authors found that cross-ethnic friendships
in multiethnic contexts protected from the negative consequences of perceived ethnic
discrimination in South-Asian British children, but they did not control for the cross-
ethnic friendships being with majority or minority group members (Bagci, Rutland,
Kumashiro, Smith, & Blumberg, 2014).
According to the literatures on social capital and intergroup contact, if the benefits
of social connections with the majority group seem to be well known, how social
connections with other immigrant minorities can moderate immigrants’ psychological
responses to social exclusion is far from being clear. Moreover, the exposed literature
mainly focused on the effects of perceived discrimination and stigmatization of
immigrants that are only conceptually related to the specific constructs of rejection and
ostracism1. We could not find any study investigating how immigrants’ psychological
responses to persistent episodes of rejection and ostracism may be modulated by social
connections with natives or immigrant groups. The present research aims to fill this gap
by investigating how intergroup connections shape immigrants’ responses to chronic
social exclusion.
The present research
The present research examined whether the relationship between experiences of
perceived and objective chronic social exclusion and the resignation stage can be
modulated by intervening factors. In two studies, we focused on immigrants as a well-
known population at risk of experiencing frequent and persistent episodes of exclusion.
Study 1 focused on self-reported perceptions of social exclusion, whereas Study 2 focused
on a peer-reported index of exclusion. In both studies, we investigated the roles of social
connections with the native population and other immigrants, and the prevalence of social
connections with native people over other immigrants as potential moderators of the
relationship between experiences of social exclusion and the resignation stage (Study 1
and 2) and life satisfaction (Study 2).
Based on the available literature, we hypothesized that immigrants with higher
social connections with majority-group members would show a reduced detrimental
impact (i.e., lower resignation and higher life satisfaction) of their experiences of chronic
social exclusion. Given the conflicting findings from the literature on social contact and
capital, we could not strongly predict how connections with the minority-group members
would moderate the relationship between chronic exclusion and the outcomes, thus this
consisted in a more exploratory research question. Finally, we explored how the
prevalence of social connections with native people over other immigrants influenced
immigrants’ psychological response to chronic exclusion.
Statistical analysis
We investigated the research questions via multiple moderated regression models.
At first, we analyzed how social connections with natives and immigrants moderated the
relationship between exclusion and the outcomes. Then we observed how the prevalence
of connections with native over immigrant moderated the exclusionoutcomes link. All
the independent variables were standardized before the analyses to reduce
multicollinearity (Holmbeck, 2002). To investigate significant interaction effects, we
conducted simple slopes analysis observing the effect of the predictor on the dependent
variable at 1 SD below the mean, the mean value, and 1 SD above the mean of the
moderators. The analyses were conducted using the software R-Studio (RStudio Team,
2016) and with software IBM SPSS Statistics (IBM corp., 2017).
Study 1
We recruited a sample of asylum seekers as a sample of immigrants at high risk
of experiencing persistent social exclusion. The data for this study were derived from the
first wave of an ongoing longitudinal study that we have been conducting since 2017. The
longitudinal study is aimed at investigating a wider range of factors at individual (e.g.,
resilience traits), social (e.g., social connections) and situational levels (e.g., integration-
promoting programs) that may predict different asylum seekers’ responses (e.g., prosocial
and antisocial behaviors) to the chronic social exclusion they are exposed to. From that
large number of intervenient factors2, we focused on the measures assessing the general
perceptions of social exclusion, the resignation stage, and social connections with Italians
and immigrants. Then, we tested how the quantity and quality of the social connections
with the two groups moderated the relationship between self-reported social exclusion
and the resignation stage.
We conducted an a priori power analysis using the software G*Power (Faul,
Erdfelder, Buchner, & Lang, 2009) to estimate the minimum sample size required to reach
an adequate level of statistical power in the analyses planned. With an alpha of .05, in a
model with six total predictors (as the most extended model tested), the results
recommended the recruitment of at least 55 participants to achieve a good power (β = .80)
in detecting a medium effect size (f2 = .15) for the single regression coefficient. Within
three welcoming centers (CAS centers for extraordinary welcoming) in Northern Italy,
we recruited 112 male immigrants (Mage = 25.9, SD = 6.5, range = 1859; Meducation =
10.2 school years, SD = 4.1, range = 019), doubling the minimum sample required. We
recruited only men because they represented the vast majority of users of the welcoming
centers we had access to. The majority of the sample (86.9%) came from Western Africa
(Nigeria, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon,
Benin, Liberia, Burkina Faso), 9% from Asia (Pakistan and Bangladesh), 2 participants
came from Egypt, and 1 from Somalia (2 unknown). The 41.1% of the participants were
Christian, 55.4% were Muslim, and 1 was Jewish (3 unknown). Most of the participants
were unmarried (75.9%), 15.2 % were married and 7.2% separated, divorced or widowed
(2 unknown). Participants had been living in Italy for 15.1 months (SD = 8.2, range = 4
48); 94.6% were asylum seekers while 5.4% (n = 6) already held a status of international
protection. These six participants were removed from the analysis so that we could focus
only on asylum-seeking immigrants, controlling for the effect of the legal status.
Three major hosting-center operators experienced in welcoming asylum seekers
were consulted to obtain access to our sample. Data were collected through a paper-and-
pencil self-reported questionnaire that was available in three languages: English, Italian,
and French (native speakers reviewed the translations). The data collection process
consisted of two phases. First, we briefed the participants in collective meetings regarding
the aims and methodology of the study. Then, we organized group sessions for the
questionnaire administration. Cultural-linguistic mediators supported the researchers.
Mediators translated the researchers’ explanation of the study procedure in the
participants’ native languages, and they intervened during the questionnaire
administration in helping participants understand questionnaire items and translating
researchers’ clarifications. After signing the informed consent form, participants took
approximately 60-90 minutes to complete the questionnaire. This research was approved
by the Ethical Committee of the University of Milano-Bicocca.
Predictors: Social exclusion. The self-reported index of social exclusion
measured how rejected and ignored participants felt in their daily life. The score was
computed averaging two items assessing the two main components of social exclusion
(“I feel rejected,” “I feel ignored”). The index showed a good internal consistency (r =
.74, p < .001) and it ranged from 1 to 5, with a higher score indicating a higher perception
of exclusion.
Outcomes: Resignation stage. We measured the outcomes associated with the
resignation stage computing an index of resignation stage, including items that tapped
into alienation, depression, unworthiness, and helplessness (for a similar procedure see
Riva et al., 2016). Items that tapped into alienation were derived from the social
connectedness subscale of the Social Connectedness Scale (Lee & Robbins, 1995).
Examples of adopted items are: “I felt disconnected from the world around me,” and “I
felt so distant from people.” For depression3, we included items of the Symptom checklist
90 (Revised) Depression subscale (Derogatis & Unger, 2010). Examples of adopted
items are: “I felt no interest in things” and “I felt that everything was an effort.” For
unworthiness, we included items of the Rosenberg self-esteem scale (Rosenberg, 1965).
Examples of adopted items are: “On the whole, I was satisfied with my self” and “At
times, I thought I was no good at all.” Finally, for helplessness4, participants filled out
some items of the Beck Hopelessness Scale (Beck, 1974). Examples of adopted items are:
“My future seemed dark to me,” and “I had great faith in the future.” (see the complete
list of items in Appendix A). For all items, participants were asked to rate how much they
felt or thought as stated in the items in the previous three months on a 5-point response
scale (from 1= not at all to 5 = extremely). The resulting index of resignation stage
showed good reliability (Cronbach’s α = .84); with higher scores indicating higher levels
of resignation.
Moderators: Social connections. We measured quality and quantity of social
connections with Italians, asylum seekers’ national group members and immigrants from
other Countries (in this order in the questionnaire), asking participants to list up to ten
persons they had regularly interacted with in the previous three months. Participants also
rated how close they felt to each person on a response scale ranging from 1 = not close at
all to 5 = extremely close. At first, we computed three indexes of social connection
averaging the responses on the closeness scale weighted by the number of social
connections nominated (i.e., summing the closeness scores; Page-Gould, 2012). Then, we
averaged the indices of social connections with immigrants’ national group members and
with immigrants from other Countries in a superordinate index of social connections with
other immigrants. The Italian and immigrant connections indices ranged from 0 to 50,
with higher scores indicating closer and more numerous social connections with the
members of the two groups.
To consider the ratio between Italian and immigrants connections, we created an
index representing the prevalence of social connections with Italians over other
immigrants. The index was computed by subtracting the immigrants’ social connections
from the Italian one. The measure ranged from -37 to 40, with positive scores indicating
a greater prevalence of Italian over immigrant connections and negative scores indicating
greater connections with immigrants over Italians. A score of zero meant that participants
had the same quantity and quality of social connections between Italian and immigrant
Socio-demographics. We asked participants to indicate their gender, education
(in year of full-time education attended), nationality, marital status, religion, status of
their asylum claim, months of staying in Italy, and the way they reached Italy.
Preliminary analysis: Correlation and descriptive analysis. Correlations
among variables of Study 1 are reported in Table 1. We found that perceptions of chronic
social exclusion were positively associated with the outcomes linked with the resignation
stage. We also found that feelings of exclusion and resignation were higher in those
immigrants who felt less connected with Italian people. Perceptions of social exclusion
were not related to the degree of social connections with other immigrants. The analysis
showed that social connections with Italians and with other immigrants were positively
associated, indicating that people more connected with one group were also more related
to the other group. Finally, participants had closer and more numerous relationship with
other immigrants compared to Italians (|t|(187) = 2.57, p = .011) (see Table 1).
Primary analyses. We ran a series of multiple moderated linear regression
models to investigate 1) how social connections with Italian and with other immigrants,
and 2) the prevalence of social connections with Italians over other immigrants moderated
the relationship between perceptions of chronic social exclusion and the resignation stage.
The results are presented in Table 2 and controlled for the length of stay in Italy.
Model 1 showed significant interactions both for social connections with Italians
and with other immigrants. Simple slopes analysis revealed that exclusion was more
strongly associated with resignation for increasing connections with other immigrants (+1
SD: β = 0.86, SE = 0.17, t = 4.97, p < .001; mean: β = 0.39, SE = 0.11, t = 3.63, p < .001;
-1 SD: β = -0.08, SE = 0.19, t = -0.45, p = .65) (Figure 1). Oppositely, exclusion was less
strongly associated with the resignation stage for increasing connections with Italians (+1
SD: β = 0.09, SE = 0.21, t = 0.44, p = .66; mean: β = 0.38, SE = 0.11, t = 3.63, p < .001;
-1 SD: β = 0.68, SE = 0.12, t = 5.59, p < .001) (Figure 2).
Model 2 showed a significant moderation effect of the delta score. Simple slopes
analysis showed that exclusion was no longer associated with resignation when the social
connections with Italian prevailed over the immigrant ones = 0.06, SE = 0.16, t = 0.37,
p = .71). Oppositely, exclusion was increasingly associated with resignation when
immigrant and Italian social connections were equal in terms of number and closeness (β
= 0.38, SE = 0.10, t = 3.94, p < .001) and even more when immigrant connections
prevailed over Italian ones (β = 0.69, SE = 0.11, t = 6.58, p < .001) (Figure 3).
Study 2
Study 2 aimed to replicate the pattern of results of Study 1. We used a large-scale,
longitudinal dataset with almost 20,000 students from four European countries (England,
Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden). Study 2 tested the relationships found in Study
1 in a larger sample of immigrant population with different demographic characteristics
(i.e., 2206 adolescents). Study 2 further extended Study 1 in three other ways. First, the
participants were both male and female. Second, we shifted from considering self-
reported perceptions of social exclusion to a peer-reported index of exclusion. Third, to
triangulate the results, we considered a measure of life satisfaction as well as the
resignation stage as dependent variables.
Participants and procedure
Participants were part of the “Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study in Four
European Country” (CILS4EU; Kalter et al., 2016). The data presented in this study came
from the 1st wave of data collection conducted in 2010/2011. From the whole sample
(19,634 participants), we selected only 1st generation immigrant participants –– children
who were born in a foreign country. The selected sample consisted of 2206 adolescents
(50.3% male) who were, on average, 15.6 years old (SD=0.8; range = 14-18). A total of
28.1% of the participants were recruited in England, 24.7% in Germany, 14.5% in the
Netherlands, and 32.7% in Sweden. On average, participants migrated to the survey
country when they were 7.2 years old (SD=4.3, range = 018). Information on the country
of origin of the participants was not available in the dataset due to an anonymization
procedure. The data were collected in the regular national school setting with the support
of research assistants. Participants answered questionnaires that focused on migration-
specific characteristics, sociocultural integration, psychological well-being and
behavioral problems, weak and strong social connections with several ethnic groups, and
social network data, among other topics.
Predictor: Social Exclusion. We computed a peer-reported index of social
exclusion in the classroom based on a peer-nomination measure. Participants were asked
to write down the ID numbers of up to five classmates they would not sit by (“Who would
you NOT want to sit by? Here, you may write down no more than five ID numbers”).
From this question, we computed the peer-reported index of social exclusion by counting
how many times each participant was listed by other classmates. The score indicated the
number of people who would not sit by each of the participants. The index ranged from
0 to 23, with higher scores indicating a higher peer-reported index of social exclusion.
Outcome 1: Resignation stage. The questionnaires measured only two
(depression and unworthiness) out of the four outcomes associated with the resignation
stage (alienation and helplessness were not measured). We could not compute an overall
resignation index including all the four outcomes theorized by Williams (2009).
However, results from Study 1 and past research (Riva et al., 2016) showed that responses
to the four outcomes are usually highly related. Therefore, for Study 2, we computed an
index of resignation stage by averaging the available two single-items measuring
depression and unworthiness (“I feel depressed”; “I feel worthless”). The index showed
sufficient internal consistency (r = .58, p < .001) and higher scores indicated higher levels
of resignation (range = 1-4).
Outcome 2: Life satisfaction. An index of life satisfaction was measured with a
single, self-reported item (“On a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 is very unsatisfied, and 10 is
very satisfied, how satisfied are you with your life in general?”). The response scale
ranged from 1 to 10, with a higher score indicating higher life satisfaction.
Moderators: Social connections. Participants responded to two series of items
measuring the frequency of intergroup social connections in the school and the
neighborhood. Participants rated how often they spent time with people from different
ethnic groups, and the reference groups varied across the survey countries based on the
ethnic composition of the survey societies5. We averaged these items in two indexes: (1)
social connections with native people from the survey country and (2) social connections
with immigrants in the survey country. The two scales ranged from 1 to 5, and higher
scores indicated more frequent connections with native and immigrant people.
As in Study 1, we computed a delta score assessing the prevalence of native social
connections over immigrant social connections. We calculated the index by subtracting
the native social connections index minus the immigrant social connections index. The
delta score ranged from -4 to 4. Scores above zero indicated a higher prevalence of native
over immigrant connections, whereas scores below zero indicated a higher prevalence of
immigrant over native connections. A score equal to zero indicated that participants’
social connections with native people occurred with the same frequency as connections
with other immigrants.
Correlation analysis (see Table 3) showed a negative association between the
index of life satisfaction and the index of resignation stage. As expected, levels of the
peer-reported index of social exclusion were associated with lower levels of the index of
life satisfaction, and although only marginally, positively linked with levels of the index
of resignation stage. We also found that those with lower connections with other
immigrants were highly rejected by other students. We observed that immigrant
adolescents with high (low) social connections, regardless of the group membership,
showed higher (lower) life satisfaction, whereas exclusively social connections with other
immigrants were associated with lower resignation. The mean values of the delta score,
social connections with the native population and with other immigrants suggested that
immigrant adolescents in this sample had more frequent social connections with the
native population than with other immigrants (|t|(3513) = 5.83, p < .001).
Primary analyses. We ran two series of multiple moderated regression models
aiming investigating: (1) how social connections with the native population and with
other immigrants moderated the relationship between peer-reported social exclusion and
(a) the self-reported outcomes associated with the resignation stage, and (b) life
satisfaction; (2) how the prevalence of the social connections with the native population
over other immigrants moderated the associations between exclusion and (a) resignation,
and (b) life satisfaction. Table 4 reports the regression models controlling for the effect
of the countries, gender, age, length of stay in the country.
In the model (1a), we observed that social connections with the native population
and with other immigrants significantly moderated the relation between exclusion and
resignation, in the same direction as in Study 1. Simple slopes analysis showed that for
increasing social connections with natives, participants presented a decreasing association
between exclusion and resignation (+1 SD: β = 0.04, SE = 0.04, t = 1.15, p = .25; mean:
β = 0.11, SE = 0.03, t = 3.85, p < .001; -1 SD: β = 0.17, SE = 0.04, t = 4.04, p < .001)
(Figure 4). By contrast, increasing connections with other immigrants led to a stronger
exclusion-resignation association (+1 SD: β = 0.19, SE = 0.04, t = 4.50, p < .001; mean:
β = 0.11, SE = 0.03, t = 3.99, p < .001; -1 SD: β = 0.03, SE = 0.04, t = 0.88, p = .38)
(Figure 5).
The model (2a) showed a significant effect of the delta moderator. Simple slopes
analysis confirmed that when the social connections with natives prevailed over social
connections with other immigrants, exclusion was no longer associated with resignation
(β = 0.02, SE = 0.03, t = 0.50, p = .62). By contrast, when social connections with other
immigrants occurred with the same frequency of social connections with the native
population (β = 0.11, SE = 0.03, t = 4.00, p < .001) exclusion was increasingly associated
with resignation. This relationship became even stronger when social connections with
other immigrants prevailed over social connections with the native population (β = 0.21,
SE = 0.04, t = 4.95, p < .001) (Figure 6).
The model testing the influences of native and immigrant social connections on
the link between peer-reported exclusion and self-reported life satisfaction (1b) showed
that only the social connections with other immigrants moderate the link between
exclusion and life-satisfaction. The effect of connections with the native population, even
if in the expected direction, was only marginally significant (p = .055). Simple slopes
analysis revealed that more excluded participants presented greater score on the
resignation outcomes for increasing social connection with other immigrants (+1 SD: β =
-0.17, SE = 0.04, t = -4.16, p < .001; mean: β = -0.12, SE = 0.03, t = -4.29, p < .001; -1
SD: β = -0.06, SE = 0.04, t = -1.78, p = .07) (Figure 7).
Finally, the model 2b showed a significant moderation effect of the delta score.
Simple slopes analysis showed a negative and significant relationship between exclusion
and life satisfaction for those participants whose social connections with other immigrants
were as frequent as those with the native population (β = -0.12, SE = 0.03, t = -4.39, p =
< .001). The strength of this relationship increased when social connections with other
immigrants prevailed over those with natives (β = -0.19, SE = 0.04, t = -4.71, p < .001).
By contrast, life satisfaction was no longer affected by social exclusion when participants’
social connections were more frequent whit native people than with other immigrants (β
= -0.05, SE = 0.03, t = -1.51, p = .13) (Figure 8).
General Discussion
The present research investigated how social connections with the native majority
and other immigrant minorities moderated immigrants’ psychological responses to
chronic social exclusion. In Study 1 (N = 112) and Study 2 (N = 2206), we found that
social connections with native people protected immigrants from the negative
psychological consequences (resignation and life dissatisfaction) of chronic social
exclusion. Conversely, social connections with other immigrants worsened the negative
impact of exclusion. We also found that the prevalence of social connections with natives
over other immigrants protected from the negative outcomes of social exclusion that
emerged when immigrants had stronger connections with other immigrants than with
native people.
The contributions of these results to understand the scientific background on
which the studies draws are twofold. First, while confirming the exclusion-resignation
link, our findings showed that the resignation stage are not the imperative effects of
chronic social exclusion. Second, the results showed that social connections with different
groups differently contributed to feed excluded individuals’ sense of belonging, thus
buffering the negative effects of persistent exclusion. The results that social connections
with the native majority protected from the negative psychological consequences of social
exclusion is consistent with the existing theories regarding the beneficial power of social
connections (Baumeister & Leary, 1995), the advantages of the bridging social capital
(e.g., Marschall & Stolle, 2004), and the positive outcomes of intergroup social contact
(e.g., Bagci & Turnuklu, 2018). Positive social connections with majority groups may
promote a sense of belonging, integration, and acceptance in society, thus protecting
devalued minorities from the negative consequences of social exclusion (Bagci,
Turnuklu, & Bekmezci, 2018a; 2018b; Mendoza-Denton, & Page-Gould, 2018).
The finding that immigrants’ connections with other minorities worsened the
psychological outcomes associated with chronic social exclusion suggested that being
connected with others is not always a benefit for excluded minorities.
Group identification could be a possible mechanism explaining the moderating
effect of intergroup social connections. The growing body of the “Social Cure” literature
(Jetten, Haslam, & Haslam, 2012) showed that the group membership positively affects
well-being providing individuals with self-esteem, meaning, belonging, and support
(Jetten et al., 2012; Jetten et al., 2017; Wakefield, Bowe, Kellezi, & Stevenson, 2019). In
an early work Branscombe and colleagues (1999) theorized the “rejection-identification
model”, according to which members of devalued group could cope with the sting of
social rejection by identifying with their minority group: the deriving feelings of
relatedness, similarity and support would protect them from the negative impact of
discrimination (Neblett, Rivas-Drake, & Umana-Taylor, 2012). However, this theoretical
model received mixed empirical support (see for metanalytic findings Pascoe & Smart
Richmann, 2009) and if some focusing on immigrants have supported it (Verkuyten &
Yildiz, 2007), many have not (see Bobowik, Martinovic, Basabe, Barsties, & Wachter,
2017; Çelebi, Verkuyten, & Bagci, 2017). This is because when membership occurs with
devalued social groups (Jetten et al., 2017) or it is associated with burden and distress
rather than support (Kellezi, Bowe, Wakefield, McNamara, & Bosworth, 2018;
Johnstone, Jetten, Dingle, Parsell, & Walter, 2016), the group can be a “Social Curse”
rather than a cure, with detrimental impact for its members’ health (Kellezi & Reicher,
The social connections with other immigrants could increase participants’
belongingness and identification to other disadvantaged groups, which in turn could lead
minority-group members to be more vulnerable to social exclusion. Goodwin, Williams,
and Carter-Sowell (2010) found that African Americans who attributed ostracism to
group-status characteristics (i.e., race) had a slower recovery from social exclusion. The
authors argued that memberships with derogated groups might aggravate the sting of
social exclusion. Others found that African Americans, facing situations triggering race-
based rejection expectations, perceived rejection more frequently and reacted more
intensely to it (Mendoza-Denton, Downey, Purdie, Davis, & Pietrzak, 2002). Wirth and
Williams (2009) found that when participants’ identification was a permanent and salient
feature of the self, they recovered less from ostracism. Begeny and Huo (2017) found that
minority group members with greater identity centrality tended to perceive more
discrimination and social threats, which negatively affected their psychological health
(see also Sellers & Shelton, 2003, and Rubin & Stuart, 2018). These findings are in line
with those showing that minority-group members highly identifying with their in-group
were more vulnerable to the effect of perceived discrimination or other social threats
(Bagci et al., 2018b; Noh, Beiser, Kaspar, Hou, & Rummens, 1999; Yoo & Lee, 2008;
McCoy & Major, 2003; Eccleston & Major, 2006; Major, Quinton, & Schmader, 2003).
Social exclusion would thus greatly affect the psychological condition of those
immigrants who are mostly connected and in turn identified with other immigrants.
In conclusion, the status of the group immigrants relate to could be crucial in
reducing feelings of psychological resignation. The present findings can be accounted by
Jetten and colleagues’ (2017) hypotheses. Being connected and identified with high status
group might enhance members health and well-being. Conversely, the identification with
low status groups can have negative consequences (Hypothesis 3a and 3b). In immigrants
who strive to integrate into the higher status majority (Tajfel & Turner, 1979) and whose
belonging is thwarted because of their minority status, the connections with majority
members might foster their feelings of belonging to a higher status group, with positive
implications for their health. Conversely, social connections with other immigrants would
exacerbate excluded immigrants’ sense of isolation and inaccessibility to the majority,
aggravating the resignation and low satisfaction in life. Being connected to other
minority-group members might oppose immigrants’ movement up the social ladder
(Tajfel, 1975), in social bonds that “constrain rather than facilitate” social integration
(Rumbaut 1977, p. 39), leading them to a reluctant acceptance and resignation to their
condition of social exclusion.
These results showed methodological reliability, following Sakaluk’s (2016)
“exploring small, confirming big” approach to replicable psychological science. The
replication of the results in two different samples of immigrants gives additional
conceptual strength to the methodological reliability, given that the two different groups
of immigrants we analyzed are likely to experience different forms of social exclusion.
Asylum seekers might primarily experience social exclusion due to the relocation
stressors such as the exclusionary threat derived from the pending of their legal condition
(Ager & Strang, 2008), the multiple losses (Bennett, Boshoff, & Rigby, 1997) that,
besides the employment and financial difficulties (Lipson, 1991), can contribute to create
a sense of exclusion and uprootedness. Differently, immigrant adolescents in the school
settings are more likely to experience social exclusion related to victimization and
bullying by their peers (Vieno, Santinello, Lenzi, Baldassari, Mirandola, 2009) and
isolation due to low social integration (Zeitlin-Ophir, Melitz, Miller, Podoshin, & Mesh,
The length of stay in the host country was another factor differently affecting
asylum seekers and immigrant adolescents experience. We found that asylum seekers
psychological outcomes decreased with the increase of the months spent in Italy, whilst
immigrant adolescents showed better outcomes as the years of the stay in the host
countries increased. This finding resonated with the classical U-curve effect of the cross-
cultural adjustment (Lysgaard, 1955; Oberg, 1960), that even if challenged by more
recent evidence (Ward, Okura, Kennedy, & Kojima, 1998) showed that psychological
distress, if little in the early stages of the immigration, might increase in the first months
of the relocation, decreasing again in the long run.
Limitations and future research
Some limitations need to be addressed in future researches. Except for the peer-
reported index of social exclusion in Study 2, all the dependent variables and moderators
in both studies were self-reported and, even if post-hoc analyses (see the Supplemental
Materials file) showed that common method bias is not significantly affecting the results,
future studies should control this limitation using alternative measures, focusing for
example on behavioral dimensions of psychological health.
Other potential confounders can critically affect the results. The previous level of
psychopathology might be one of them. Immigrants and especially asylum seekers show
a high prevalence of psychological disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder, major
depression, and anxiety (Fazel, Wheeler, & Danesh, 2005; Missinne & Bracke, 2012).
Individuals’ levels of psychopathology might affect one's perception of exclusion and
impact on the resignation and life satisfaction, making them less prone to seek social
connections with other (regardless of their group belonging). This confounding variable
could affect the results presented, and future studies need to control for immigrants’
psychopathology to be capable to trace back individuals’ resignation to the experiences
of social exclusion.
Moreover, this work presented cross-sectional results and we could not infer a
causal direction in the effects. Even if the exclusion-resignation link has already been
shown, it is possible that immigrants with higher levels of alienation, unworthiness,
helplessness, and depression were more prone to perceive social exclusion. Future
research should use more complex research designs, such as experimental studies, to
generate causal predictions and interpretations of the results. Experimental designs could
also provide more detailed explanations of the psychological processes underlying these
findings. Experimental studies can manipulate different aspects of the identification with
an experimentally excluded social groups (e.g., centrality, affects, and ties; see Cameron,
1999, 2004) to better understand the conditions in which the ingroup attachment hurts or
helps. Also, we did not have information regarding the nationality of the participants in
study 2. The version of the CISL4EU international dataset we used was anonymized
according to ethical principles. Thus, we could not have information regarding the
nationalities of the participants. Collecting more comprehensive data, future research
could focus on cultural differences in the investigation of social exclusion in immigrants.
Future researches should also consider the role of the source of social exclusion. In the
present work, we investigated the effects of the perceived and objective social exclusion
of immigrants focusing on general feelings and experiences of immigrants’ social
exclusion regardless of what caused them, and we did not distinguish if participants
exclusion derived from ingroup members, the native majority, or other minorities. Given
that previous studies highlighted the importance of the source of social exclusion,
showing that individuals with a collectivistic self-concept are more threatened from the
exclusion by ingroup members than by outgroup ones (Pfundmair et al., 2015), future
researches should deepen the understanding of immigrants’ responses to social exclusion
accounting for the sources of exclusion6.
The current findings can be crucial for further scientific development in the
general domains of minoritiesexclusion and integration. Future research should focus
on other potential moderators, which could better explain the development of the long-
term consequences of social exclusion in the immigrant population, as well as in other
devalued social groups. We could expect that the pattern of findings presented in these
studies could also apply to homeless people, sexual and religious minorities, people with
mental health illness, elderly people, ex-detainees and to other social groups at risk of
marginalization from the broader society. We could expect that being primarily connected
with their marginalized ingroup would worsen the negative effect of the individuals’
experience of social exclusion, whereas connection with the majority and higher status
group would help cope with the consequences of social exclusion.
The present work considered a possible moderator of the exclusion-resignation
link. Showing that social connections with different social groups differently shape
immigrants’ response to chronic social exclusion, we contributed to articulate and extend
the existing theories on social exclusion, starting a new area of investigation to further
articulate Williams’s seminal model of social exclusion (2009). From an empirically
grounded theory, social workers and scientists could be inspired in their social and
psychological work, and these findings could offer suggestions in developing integration
programs for immigrants, such as intervening to connect immigrants with the host society.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the
research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
The study from where we derived the data presented in Study 1 was supported
by the Italian non-profit organization “Fondazione Roberto Franceschi ONLUS” (grant
number 2017-NAZ-0176).
1 The experiences of discrimination and stigmatization are only subtypes of the broader
taxonomy of the rejection-based episodes that, together with the ostracism-based
episodes, generate the broader categorization of the experiences of social exclusion
(Wesselmann & Williams, 2017; Riva & Eck, 2016).
2 A complete list of the constructs that have been measured in the longitudinal study is
available on request.
3 We removed items 54 (“Feeling hopeless about the future”) and 79 (“Feelings of
worthlessness”) because they were redundant with the measures of unworthiness and
4 We selected items number 1, 7, 15, and 18 (focusing on the emotional and cognitive
domains of hopelessness from the original scale to reduce the total number of items
composing the whole questionnaire.
5 English participants responded to eight questions (four for connections at school and the
four for those in their neighborhoods), rating how often they spent time with people from
Asian, Black, and White British backgrounds and general other ethnic backgrounds.
Swedish participants responded to questions that referred to Swedish and foreign people.
German participants responded to items that referred to people from German, Italian,
Polish, Russian, Turkish, and other backgrounds. Finally, in the Netherlands, participants
answered questions that referred to people from Dutch, Moroccan, Surinamese/Antillean,
Turkish, and other backgrounds.
6 Among other variables, in the longitudinal research project from what Study 1 was
derived we measured with three single items the perception of social exclusion from
Italians, participants’ ethnic group and other immigrants (“In the last three months, I felt
excluded by [Italian people / people from my nationality / other asylum seekers and
refugees]”; response scale: 1 = not at all, 5 = extremely). In the Supplemental Materials
file, we run three sperate regression models assessing how the quantity and quality of
intergroup social connections moderate the relationship between the three group-specific
predictor of social exclusion and the resignation stage. We found that only social
exclusion by the participants’ ethnic group was significantly associated with the
resignation stage when social connections with other immigrants were high and those
with Italians low. It could be that, when excluded by their in-group, having positive social
connections with other members of that group would tie immigrants to a social group that
hurt them, increasing the negative effect of the exclusion. By contrast, having positive
connections with Italian would provide an alternative source of group membership,
buffering the negative effects of the in-group exclusion. Eventually, these moderating
effects would not be effective when the exclusion is less salient and central to the self
(i.e., Italians and other immigrant groups). This is in line with the findings of Pfundmair
and colleagues (2015), showing that individuals with a collectivistic self-concept are
more threatened by exclusion by ingroup members than exclusion by members of the
outgroup. However, these explanations, given the exploratory nature of the analyses and
the low reliability of the predictors (i.e., single items self-reported), must be taken with
caution, and they must be considered only as an evidence of the need for future researches
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Table 1. Mean (standard deviation) and correlation for the core constructs of Study 1.
*p<.05; ***p<.001
M (SD)
Index of resignation
2.15 (0.55)
Self-reported index of
social exclusion
1.83 (1.24)
Social connections with
11.93 (13.12)
Social connections with
other immigrants
16.99 (14.26)
Delta score
-5.04 (11.49)
Table 2. How intergroup social connections moderate the relationship between
perceived social exclusion and the resignation stage (Study 1)
Note. * p < .05; ** p < .01; *** p < .001
Resignation stage
Model 1
Self-reported social exclusion
Social connections with Italians
Social connections with other immigrants
Social exclusion x social connections with Italians
Social exclusion x social connections with other immigrants
Length of stay in Italy
Adjusted R2
F(dfn, dfd)
8.61 (6, 83) ***
Model 2
Self-reported social exclusion
Delta score
Social exclusion x Delta score
Length of stay in Italy
Adjusted R2
F(dfn, dfd)
12.64 (4, 85) ***
Table 3. Mean (standard deviation) and correlation for the core constructs of Study 2.
M (SD)
Index of resignation
1.85 (0.78)
Index of life satisfaction
7.62 (2.17)
Peer-reported index of
social exclusion
2.41 (2.84)
Social connections with
native people
3.47 (1.19)
Social connections with
other immigrants
3.24 (1.15)
Delta score
0.23 (1.55)
+ p=.08; *p<.05 **p<.01; ***p<.001
Table 4. How intergroup social connections moderate the relationship between perceived social exclusion and a) the resignation stage and
b) life satisfaction (Study 2)
Note. * p < .05; ** p < .01; *** p < .001
a) Resignation stage
b) Life satisfaction
Model 1
Peer-reported social exclusion
Social connections with native people
Social connections with other immigrants
Social exclusion x social connections with native people
Social exclusion x social connections with other
Length of stay in the country
Gender (male)
Country - Germany
Country - Netherlands
Country - Sweden
Adjusted R2
F(dfn, dfd)
14.46 (11, 1249) ***
9.89 (11, 1245)***
Model 2
Peer-reported social exclusion
Delta score
Social exclusion x Delta score
Length of stay in the country
Gender (male)
Country - Germany
Country - Netherlands
Country - Sweden
Adjusted R2
F(dfn, dfd)
17.55 (9, 1251) ***
12.01 (9, 1247) ***
Figure 1. The moderating role of social connections with other immigrants on the relationship
between the self-reported index of social exclusion and the index of resignation.
Figure 2. The moderating role of social connections with Italians on the relationship between the self-
reported index of social exclusion and the index of resignation.
Figure 3. The moderating role of the prevalence of social connections with Italians over other
immigrants on the relationship between the self-reported index of social exclusion and the index of
Figure 4. The moderating role of social connections with native people on the relationship between
the peer-reported index of social exclusion and the index of resignation.
Figure 5. The moderating role of social connections with other immigrants on the relationship
between the peer-reported index of social exclusion and the index of resignation.
Figure 6. The moderating role of the prevalence of social connections with native people over other
immigrants on the relationship between the peer-reported index of social exclusion and the index of
Figure 7. The moderating role of social connections with other immigrants on the relationship
between the peer-reported index of social exclusion and the index of life satisfaction.
Figure 8. The moderating role of the prevalence of social connections with native people over other
immigrants on the relationship between the peer-reported index of social exclusion and the index of
life satisfaction.
... Also, research has largely neglected the investigation of risk and protective factors facilitating or hindering entry into the resignation stage. Emerging findings supported the persistent exclusion-resignation link in the general population (Riva & Eck, 2016;Rudert et al., 2021;Zamperini et al., 2020) and in marginalized social groups like prisoners (Aureli et al., 2020) and immigrants (Marinucci, Mazzoni, et al., 2022;Marinucci & Riva, 2021a, 2021bMazzoni et al., 2020). ...
... Aureli et al. (2020) showed that support groups within prisons could reduce the gap between inmates' and free citizens' overall resignation. Studies on immigrants showed that social connections with the national group reduced the impact of exclusion on the resignation, whereas connections with other immigrants aggravated it (Marinucci, Mazzoni, et al., 2022;Marinucci & Riva, 2021a). ...
... Using the R package WebPower (Zhang & Yuan, 2018), we conducted a multigroup mediation model simulation (as the study's primary analysis) with 100 Monte Carlo repetitions and 1000 bootstrap draws (Thoemmes et al., 2010). We set the effect of perceived inequality on resignation to 0.34 (Schmalor & Heine, 2022a), the effect of social exclusion on resignation to 0.56 (Marinucci & Riva, 2021a), and expected a medium effect (β = .30) of perceived inequality on social exclusion for the homeless group and a null one (β = 0) for the non-homeless group. Results showed that the recruited sample size allowed us achieving the minimum conventional statistical power of 0.82 in detecting the indirect effect of perceived inequality on resignation via social exclusion among the homeless group. ...
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Despite the relevance of social exclusion and economic inequality for homelessness, empirical studies investigating how these issues relate to homeless people's psychological well-being are scarce. We aimed to fill this gap by conducting two quasi-experimental studies on homeless and non-homeless groups. The first study (N = 200) showed that homeless (vs. non-homeless) people presented higher levels of resignation, characterized by depression, alienation, helplessness , and unworthiness (Williams, 2009). The second study (N = 183) replicated the findings from Study 1 and showed that perceived economic inequality could increase homeless people's resignation by emphasizing perceptions of social exclusion. Additional analyses found that identification with the stigmatized homeless group could mediate the relationship between perceived inequality and social exclusion, increasing the resignation. Overall, the results showed that chronic social exclusion of homeless people is associated with higher levels of resignation. Moreover, they showed the role of perceived economic inequality and homeless group stigmatized identification as group-specific mechanisms favouring social exclusion and ultimately worsening psychological well-being. K E Y W O R D S economic inequality, homeless people, resignation stage, social exclusion, social identity
... In line with earlier conceptualizations, individuals suffering from chronic exclusion may experience a state of constant feelings of exclusion (Riva, Wesselmann, et al., 2014; see also Aureli et al., 2020). Some groups are especially at risk of being chronically excluded; for example, immigrants, asylum-seekers, or prison inmates (e.g., Aureli et al., 2020;Janke et al., under review;Marinucci et al., 2022;Marinucci & Riva, 2021a, 2021b. This raises the question of how chronic exclusion is experienced: do individuals get used to the sting of exclusion, or do the adverse effects of being excluded worsen with each new exclusion experience? ...
... In addition, Study 2 tests whether individual traits moderate the influence of chronic exclusion on responses to a new experience of exclusion. Specifically, it could be that the hyper-or hyposensitivity effect of chronic exclusion shows only in people with high rejection sensitivity, high fear of social pain, high hurt proneness, or with few social connections, respectively (e.g., Downey & Feldman, 1996;Leary & Springer, 2001;Marinucci & Riva, 2021a;. ...
... Our findings may have important implications for two types of targets: first, for targets of bullying, the perpetrators and the bullying context are likely stable (e.g., workplace bullying or bullying at school), and targets have to face rejection and exclusion all the time. Second, our findings may also have implications for research on chronically excluded groups such as immigrants, asylumseekers, or prison inmates (e.g., Aureli et al., 2020;Marinucci & Riva, 2021a, 2021b. These two types of targets may ultimately be most at risk for developing depression or even suicidal tendencies in response to chronic exclusion (e.g., Chen et al., 2020;Rudert, Janke, et al., 2021). ...
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Unlike one-time lab manipulations of exclusion, in real life, many people experience exclusion, from others and from groups, over extended periods, raising the question of whether individuals could, over time, develop hypo- or hypersensitive responses to chronic exclusion. In Study 1, we subjected participants to repeated experiences of inclusion or exclusion (three Cyberball games, time lag of three days, N = 194; 659 observations). We find that repeatedly excluded individuals become hypersensitive to inclusion, but not to exclusion. Study 2 ( N = 183) tested whether individuals with chronic experiences of real-world exclusion show hypo- or hypersensitive responses to a novel episode of exclusion. In line with Study 1, exclusion hurt to the same extent regardless of baseline levels of chronic exclusion in daily life. However, chronically excluded individuals show more psychological distress in general. We discuss theoretical and practical implications for dealing with chronically excluded individuals and groups.
... For example, studies have found that ostracized females may exert more cognitive effort to enhance social connections, while rejection may temporarily decrease the cognitive effort required for self-regulation. [40][41][42] More importantly, previous research has found that acute social rejection induces anger-related emotion and leads to a failure of self-control, whereas ostracism induces anxiety-related emotion and leads to a threatened need to belong. They are consistent with the cognitive deconstruction theory and according to the different emotion and cognitive effects of rejection and ostracism, the types of social exclusion may affect cognitive effort avoidance, leading to differences in the effects on cognitive control. ...
Purpose: Social exclusion has been found to have a significant impact on cognitive control processing. However, the existing research on this topic has yielded inconsistent findings, possibly due to variations in the type of exclusion and individuals' cognitive effort. Two studies were conducted to explore the influence of social rejection and ostracism on cognitive effort avoidance. Participants and methods: Study 1 involved forty-six adults who were randomly divided into a rejection group and a control group using a get-acquainted paradigm. The demand selection task (DST) was used to measure cognitive effort avoidance. In Study 2, forty-eight adults were recruited, Cyberball and DST paradigms were used to evoke ostracism and test cognitive effort avoidance, respectively. Results: The results of study 1 showed that individuals who were socially rejected by their partners exhibited impaired response accuracy of cognitive control and increased cognitive effort avoidance. This indicates that social rejection has a negative impact on cognitive control processing and that individuals may be more likely to avoid cognitive effort when experiencing social rejection. The results of study 2 showed that ostracism had an impact on both response speed and accuracy, but it did not significantly affect cognitive effort avoidance. This indicates that social rejection affects cognitive control processing differently than ostracism, and individuals are more likely to avoid cognitive effort when experiencing social rejection. Conclusion: These findings suggest that social rejection and ostracism have different effects on cognitive effort, which may contribute to the inconsistent cognitive performance during social exclusion. Future research may explore the underlying mechanisms that lead to these differences and examine how individuals can mitigate the negative effects of social exclusion on cognitive control processing.
... Although the extant literature addresses loneliness primarily in the context of traditional corporate expatriates (see Harrison et al., 2021;Marinucci & Riva, 2021) we believe that it is commonly experienced by all individuals who physically relocate to a foreign country to work for at least one year, conventionally classified as long-term relocation in the international management (IM) literature (Reiche & Harzing, 2011). Long-term relocation not only increases the possibility for the disruption of social connections in the home country, it also makes social relations in the host country salient. ...
Reference: Fan, S. X.; Zhu, F.; Shaffer, M. A. (conditionally accepted). Missed Connections: A Resource Management Theory to Combat Loneliness Experienced by Globally Mobile Employees. Journal of International Business Studies. @all right reserved. Loneliness of globally mobile employees 2 ABSTRACT Loneliness is a prevalent experience of globally mobile employees (GMEs) but has been rarely investigated systematically in the international management literature. To explicate how GMEs battle loneliness when working globally, we draw on conservation of resources (COR) theory to conceptualize a process whereby GMEs may transition from loneliness to social integration. This iterative and recursive cyclical process has three stages: a cognitive assessment of social relations (Stage 1), an audit of available resources (Stage 2), and a behavioral process of resource management (Stage 3) that involves three resource-management pathways (expansion, protection, and underutilization) that GMEs may follow to respond to the threat of loneliness. These pathways can result in either deep-or surface-level social integration depending on the availability of GMEs' resources, which we differentiate in terms of source (personal vs. contextual) and stability (enduring vs. transience) to develop a typology of resources that can influence the pathways GMEs follow to manage their loneliness. Our work advances research on international management, workplace loneliness, and COR theory, and opens several avenues for future research.
... For example, in an Australian study on integration, refugees described weak language proficiency and communication abilities as the biggest strain on their well-being (Watkins et al., 2012). In contrast, positive contact with host country members may temper the impact of stressors such as depression or family separation (Beiser & Hou, 2001;Cobb et al., 2019;Marinucci & Riva, 2020). Intergroup contact at work may therefore foster integration. ...
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Unlabelled: Learning the host society's language and finding a job are important steps for the societal integration of refugees. Especially language proficiency is a key barrier for the integration of low literates. Often language training and gaining work skills are separated during the integration procedure. We investigated a 1-year pilot program for refugees with low-literacy levels in the Netherlands, which combined language training (daily classes, work-related language) with work experience in sheltered employment (second-hand shop) to facilitate language learning and prepare this group better for the labour market. Building on Ager and Strang's conceptual integration framework (2008), we expected that this combined program should improve agency (communication strategies, preparedness for the labour market) via intergroup contact at work. We used a mixed-method approach to follow the development of participants (N=10) longitudinally (baseline, after 6 months, after 11 months). We gathered questionnaire data, interviewed teachers and students, and observed interactions in classes and at work. Overall, use of communication strategies increased. Analyzing individual cases (profiles) offered nuanced insights into for whom and why the program seems to have differential impact, especially in terms of labour market preparation. We discuss results and the importance of creating intergroup contact to facilitate integration in a new society. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s12134-023-01028-6.
... what constitutes uncivil behavior at work) moderates the association between acculturation strategy and reported experience of workplace incivility. As immigrants are often victims of subtle prejudice stemming from their different cultural backgrounds (Lee and Fiske, 2006), the extent to which they acculturate can have implications for whether they would be socially excluded at work (Marinucci and Riva, 2021). Lack of understanding of the association between acculturation and incivility leaves immigrant employees susceptible to mistreatments and microaggressions at work (Krings et al., 2014). ...
Purpose Challenges with acculturation in organizations may make employees an easy target of workplace incivility and awareness of what constitutes uncivil behaviors at work can influence the association between acculturation and incivility. The current study examined the links between acculturation, incivility and tested mentor holding behavior as a moderator. Design/methodology/approach Survey data including responses to incivility vignettes were collected from 163 full-time first- and second-generation immigrant employees in the southeastern United States. The data were analyzed through moderated hierarchical regression analysis. Findings The results indicated that those experiencing separation or marginalization in trying to acculturate into the dominant culture reported experiencing uncivil behaviors from supervisors and coworkers. Also, one's awareness of incivility moderated the positive relationship between experience of separation and experiences of incivility, such that this relationship was stronger for those who had higher awareness of what constitutes uncivil behavior. Additionally, the effect of marginalization on reported incivility was dampened with higher levels of mentor holding behavior. Originality/value This study’s findings extend the application of the selective incivility theory beyond the minoritized categories of race and gender to the immigrants struggling with acculturation in organizations. Also, our study lends support to widening the theoretical lens for mentoring to include relational systems theory.
... Recent studies found isolation-related implications for psychological well-being in marginalized social groups such as immigrants. 20,21 However, as Taylor and colleagues 22 pointed out, social isolation in racial/ethnic minority populations has received limited attention. ...
Objectives: Social isolation imposes risks to an individual's psychological well-being. However, few studies have examined the role of resilience on these associations among older Chinese Americans, the fastest-growing aging population across all racial/ethnic groups in the United States. We aim to examine the associations of social isolation with indicators of psychological well-being and the mediating role of resilience in these associations. Methods: Data were derived from 398 Chinese older adults aged over 55 residing in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 2018. Psychological well-being was measured by psychological distress, life satisfaction, and happiness. Multivariate linear regressions and ordered logistic regressions were conducted. Results: Social isolation was positively associated with psychological distress and negatively associated with life satisfaction and happiness (all p < 0.05). By contrast, resilience was associated with lower levels of psychological distress and higher levels of life satisfaction and happiness (all p < 0.05). Moreover, the findings supported our hypothesis that resilience mediated the association between social isolation and psychological well-being. With regard to social isolation, resilience contributed to 32.0% of its association with distress, 24.9% of the association with life satisfaction, and 16.3% of the association with happiness. Conclusion: Our findings revealed a significant association between social isolation and psychological well-being and the mediating role of resilience in the association of older Chinese Americans in Hawaii. The study findings expand our understanding of psychological resources in older Chinese Americans and emphasize the importance of developing intervention programs to foster social connection and resilience among an understudied population.
Refugees undergo traumatic events during the premigration and transit phases and also experience severe difficulties after resettlement in a new country, and they are therefore at high risk of developing mental health problems. The present studies examined if intergroup contact with members of the receiving society moderates these negative impacts on refugees’ mental health. Two studies with refugees in Switzerland (N = 262) revealed both buffering and exacerbating effects of intergroup contact. Having more Swiss friends was associated with a less negative relationship between postmigration living difficulties and mental health. Surprisingly, having more Swiss friends was also associated with a more negative relationship between traumatization and mental health. These results suggest that intergroup contact may help refugees adjust to the living conditions in the receiving society, but may pose a risk regarding trauma-related disorders.
Marginalization occurs when a whistleblower is physically moved to minor assignments, relocated to a remote or an inferior location, or detailed to nominal projects not commensurate with their job description. This move indicates to others the lesser value of the whistleblower, which then enables devaluing and promotes shunning and mobbing. The message sent to other employees is that it is condoned to treat the whistleblower as if they were insignificant or unimportant and sends a message to other employees to fear retaliation if they align with the whistleblower. The whistleblower becomes inconsequential, irrelevant, and powerless to confront the wrongdoing. Since they are physically isolated within the workplace, they suffer the consequences seen in other populations that are marginalized and ignored by the mainstream. As social pariahs and outcasts, they become the scapegoat for other problems within the organization. This type of banishment can be viewed as cruel and unusual punishment that results in alienation and lost connectedness to the individual who then is likely to experience workplace traumatic stress.
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Research to address the technical challenges of human missions into space is growing. Knowledge about the social-psychological aspects of individuals’ experiences of confinement within habitats in space missions or extreme environments is also rapidly expanding. Social isolation is among one of the best-known risk factors in these environments. This study focuses on the relationship between time spent in specific activities (e.g., talking about personal matters) and the social-psychological effects of social isolation and confinement as a part of the LUNARK project, which was aimed at building and testing the first Moon analog habitat. Two space architects took part in a 61-day mission in Northern Greenland to simulate human life conditions in the habitat as a prototype of a human settlement on the Moon. The two crew members independently filled out a time-based diary with self-report measures on their daily activities and negative emotions, feelings of loneliness, resignation, desire for social contact, and time perception. First, our results showed that, for either space architect, desire for social contact increased over time, whereas feelings of resignation did not. Moreover, the protective role of specific daily activities emerged. Talking about personal matters and leisure time were associated with a decrease in resignation, whereas talking about personal topics and physical exercising increased the desire for social contact. Finally, engaging in leisure activities increased the perceived speed of time. We discussed these results referring to research on the consequences of long-term social isolation in extreme human expeditions and social psychological models of social isolation. (249 words).
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The chapter takes a Social Identity Approach to health and presents research from three studies (interviews, ethnography and survey) with war survivors. The chapter introduces a model of social cure and curse processes in relation to trauma. The chapters provides evidence on the normative appraisal of traumatic events (norm affirmation or violation) and the implications these have for social support, coping strategies and well being. The present chapter also defines the 'social curse' terminology as negative consequences on appraisal, support, coping and well-being that derive from valued group memberships.
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We investigated the role of positive and negative contact on outgroup attitudes, collective action tendencies, and psychological well-being among minority (Kurds) and majority (Turks) group members in a conflict area (N = 527), testing ingroup identification, relative deprivation, and perceived discrimination as potential mediators in these associations. Contrary to recent research studies demonstrating the superiority of negative contact effects, positive contact was generally a stronger determinant of the dependent variables, directly and indirectly, in both groups, although negative contact also had some direct and indirect associations with the outcomes. Findings highlight the need to incorporate the role of positive and negative contact to provide a full understanding of the potential benefits/costs of the contact strategy in conflict settings.
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Over 29,000 foreign nationals are detained yearly in British Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) for undefined periods. This study investigated the role played by social identities in the way detainees are affected by, make sense of, and deal with detention. An opportunity sample of 40 detainees were interviewed on topics including support, identity, and well‐being, and data were analysed using theoretical thematic analysis. Participants struggled with loss of social networks, loss of rights, loss of agency and joining a stigmatised group. Social identities guided exchange of support, aided meaning‐making, and mitigated distrust, serving as ‘Social Cures’. However, shared identities could also be sources of burden, ostracism, and distress, serving as ‘Social Curses’. Inability to maintain existing identities or create new ones fuelled feelings of isolation. Participants also reported rejection/avoidance of social identities to maximise their benefits. This study is the first to apply the Social Identity Approach to the experience of immigration detention. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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We examined the interplay between perceived ethnic discrimination (PED) as a risk factor, and cross-ethnic friendships as a protective factor in culturally diverse classrooms, and how they relate to the socioemotional adjustment of ethnic minority boys and girls. We conducted multi-level analyses of 327 Turkish-heritage ethnic minority early-adolescents in Germany (62 classrooms; Mage=11.59 years, SDage=0.76). Higher rates of PED were associated with more depressive symptoms and disruptive behaviors and lower general life satisfaction—though these effects differed by gender. Unexpectedly, cross-ethnic friendships with ethnic majority peers exacerbated the negative effects of PED on socioemotional adjustment. This effect was decreased, though, when adolescents perceived the classroom climate to be supportive of intergroup contact toward majority-minority cross-ethnic friendships. Supportive classroom climate also buffered the effects of PED for youth with minority cross-ethnic friends. Results indicate the need to differentiate types of cross-ethnic relationships and account for the intergroup climate.
Based on social network theories, outgroup contact does not only improve intergroup relations, but can also facilitate the academic development of students due to the social capital and the uniquely supportive information and resources it provides. In the present study, 12,376 students (14.42 years; 50% girls; 38% immigrant students) from 591 classes across three countries (Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden) provided information on social network data, academic achievement, socioeconomic status (SES), and cognitive ability. Social network analysis determined the intergroup network connectedness of students. As expected, country-specific multilevel models reveal a positive linear relationship between outgroup contact and academic achievement for immigrant students in all models, and a negative curvilinear (i.e., concave) relationship between outgroup contact and academic achievement for nonimmigrant students in 2 out of 3 models, while controlling for SES, cognitive abilities, and total network integration. These findings suggest the academic value of outgroup contact for immigrant students and signal its potential for nonimmigrant students.
A substantial literature supports the important role that social group memberships play in enhancing health. While the processes through which group memberships constitute a ‘Social Cure’ are becoming increasingly well-defined, the mechanisms through which these groups contribute to vulnerability and act as a ‘Social Curse’ are less understood. We present an overview of the Social Cure literature, and then go beyond this to show how the processes underpinning the health benefits of group membership can also negatively affect individuals through their absence. First, we provide an overview of early Social Cure research. We then describe later research concerning the potential health benefits of identifying with multiple groups, before moving on to consider the ‘darker side’ of the Social Cure by exploring how intra-group dynamics can foster Curse processes. Finally, we synthesise evidence from both the Cure and Curse literatures to highlight the complex interplay between these phenomena, and how they are influenced by both intra- and inter-group processes. We conclude by considering areas we deem vital for future investigation within the discipline.
This study investigated the associations between cross‐group friendships and psychological well‐being among a sample of physically disabled adults. A total of 269 disabled people (Mage = 39.13, SD = 13.80; 114 females, 152 males, 3 unknown) completed questionnaires including the quality of their friendships with non‐disabled people, perceived majority group's attitudes towards the minority group, collective self‐esteem, collective action tendencies, own outgroup attitudes, and psychological well‐being. Findings demonstrated that disabled people's cross‐group friendships were directly and indirectly associated with higher levels of psychological well‐being via two routes: one by promoting perceived majority attitudes which consequently led to more positive own outgroup attitudes (well‐being through social integration hypothesis) and the other by leading to higher levels of collective self‐esteem which enhanced collective action tendencies (well‐being through empowerment hypothesis). Findings offer important insights into the study of cross‐group friendships in relation to the psychological well‐being of stigmatized minority group members.
Social exclusion was manipulated by telling people that they would end up alone later in life or that other participants had rejected them. These manipulations caused participants to behave more aggressively. Excluded people issued a more negative job evaluation against someone who insulted them (Experiments 1 and 2). Excluded people also blasted a target with higher levels of aversive noise both when the target had insulted them (Experiment 4) and when the target was a neutral person and no interaction had occurred (Experiment 5). However, excluded people were not more aggressive toward someone who issued praise (Experiment 3). These responses were specific to social exclusion (as opposed to other misfortunes) and were not mediated by emotion.
Previous research has shown that disadvantaged group members cope with the negative effects of perceived discrimination (PD) on mental health using various mechanisms. We examined the potential protective role of two processes—in‐group identification and intergroup contact—on the association between PD and mental health (anxiety and depression) among physically disabled adults (N = 269, Mage = 39.13, SD = 13.80). Intergroup contact, but not in‐group identification, had a buffering role on the association between PD and both depression and anxiety. However, this effect was further moderated by in‐group identification such that high levels of intergroup contact had a protective role against PD, only when in‐group identification was low. Findings highlight the importance of evaluating various social–psychological processes interactively in creating a resilient outlook among disadvantaged groups.