Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychological Science



First Reader/Committee Chair

Garcia, Donna


Social exclusion can be psychologically harmful. Two known consequences of social exclusion are increased negative emotions (Williams, Cheung, & Choi, 2000) and a lowered ability to self-regulate eating behaviors (Baumeister, DeWall, Ciarocco, & Twenge, 2005). These effects have been shown for both individual exclusion (due to a person’s unique characteristics or attributes) and group exclusion (due to a person’s social identity such as gender or ethnicity). Typically, individual social exclusion is elicited through methods such as “life alone” or the “no one chose you” paradigms. Because both of these forms of individual exclusion suggest the person has enduring undesirable traits, the exclusion is likely seen by participants as legitimate. Group exclusion, on the other hand, tends to be elicited through exposing participants to a discriminatory outcome. Because by definition discrimination entails unfair exclusion based on (typically) enduring social identities (e g., gender or ethnicity), group exclusion is likely experienced by participants as illegitimate. To my knowledge, there has been no research that has directly compared the two types of exclusion or disambiguated the effects of exclusion legitimacy, or fairness. I propose that both forms of exclusion are equally harmful for emotional experiences and self-regulation, although under different circumstances of fairness. Individual versus group exclusion can have different implications for the perceived threat of future exclusion depending on whether the exclusion is fair or unfair. Individual exclusion that is fair (e.g., because of low ability) might be perceived as a more pervasive threat (i.e., more likely to recur) because it is due to an enduring personal trait. Group exclusion, however, might be perceived as a more pervasive threat when it is unfair because it reminds people that they face future exclusion because of their enduring social identity. With this research project, I aim to isolate the effects of individual versus group exclusion on negative emotion and self-regulation by examining whether these effects vary depending on whether or not the exclusion is legitimate (fair) or illegitimate (unfair). I hypothesize that participants who experience individual exclusion that is fair or group exclusion that is unfair will report greater negative emotions than those who experience individual exclusion that is unfair and those who experience group exclusion that is fair. I additionally hypothesize that participants in the individual fair condition and the group unfair condition will also consume more calories on average compared to those in the individual unfair and group fair conditions, demonstrating lowered self-regulation abilities. Finally, I predict that the interactive effect of legitimacy (fair vs. unfair) and exclusion type (individual vs. group) will influence self-regulation indirectly through negative emotions.