Previous research has shown that ostracism –the equivalence of exclusion in a social situation –improves social monitoring abilities – a natural practice by which individuals gather information through social cues about what is happening in their social worlds (Pickett, Gardner, & Knowles, 2004). Current knowledge on social anxiety, defined as a chronic fear of social situations that put one in the position of evaluation by others, describes hypersensitivity in those individuals in cases of social monitoring others (Barlow, 2002; Craske, 1999). The current study investigated how those two constructs interacted in a cyberostracism paradigm. After measuring their social anxiety levels, participants were placed in either an exclusion or inclusion situation modeled on the social networking website Facebook, a medium through which rejection is not only easily but also commonly executed. Following the manipulation, participants were tested on their social monitoring abilities, their mood, and their feelings of satisfaction in regards to Williams’ four fundamental needs – self-esteem, control, belonging, and meaningful existence. We hypothesized that individuals in the exclusion situation, in contrast to those in the inclusion situation, would show higher levels of social monitoring ability, lower mood, and fewer feelings of satisfaction in relation to Williams’ needs. We also predicted that individuals who were higher in social anxiety would show lower levels of social monitoring ability. Finally, we hypothesized that individuals both high in social anxiety and placed into the exclusion situation would show the lowest levels of social monitoring ability. Results showed that while participants with higher levels of social anxiety had stronger psychological reactions to be ostracized, they did not then show decreased social monitoring abilities. However, participants who were high in social anxiety and also in the exclusion situation made different kinds of social monitoring errors based on the affect and intensity of the social cue.
Karlen, Claire E. and Daniels, Jennifer R. Ph. D., "Cyberostracism and Social Monitoring: Social Anxiety's Effects on Reactions to Exclusion and Inclusion Online" (2011). Honors Projects. Paper 147.