The present study used a chat room paradigm to examine the effects of social ostracism on theta EEG activity in the frontal lobe. Participants were placed in an online chat room with two other individuals whose chat room profiles indicated they were both the opposite gender of the participant and attending other universities in central Illinois. Unknown to participants, these individuals were actually confederates in the study, and the pictures used on these profiles had previously been rated as either attractive or unattractive by college students. This experiment consisted of three primary phases. In the first phase, confederates actively included the participant in the chat room conversation. In the second phase, the participant was completely ignored (social ostracism manipulation). Confederates re-included the participant in the last phase of the chat room conversation. The purpose of the present study was to investigate variables that may influence the experience of social ostracism, such as gender and attractiveness of the ostracizing students. Results indicated that the ostracism manipulation was successful, with participants reporting significantly lowered enj oyment, interest, participation, and overall engagement during exclusion, while EEG data showed a non-significant trend for lowered theta power during exclusion that did not reach significance. Attractiveness of ostracizing peers played a role in the chat room experience, with participants reporting greater engagement with unattractive peers and male participants showing a larger difference in engagement between attractiveness conditions. In addition, there was a significant interaction between phase and attractiveness condition in theta EEG activity. No gender main effects were documented in selfreport or EEG data. Future research is needed to continue to examine the roles that gender and attractiveness play in social ostracism.
Whitaker, Victoria, "Frontal Lobe Theta Activity in Socially Ostracized Individuals: Understanding Social Ostracism through EEG" (2014). Honors Projects. 166.