Personality Psychology (740)

         a blog


Hales et al., (2016)

Filed under: Uncategorized — drcb @ 4:53 pm
29 Comments to “Hales et al., (2016)”
  1. Carly Tocco says:

    After reading the Hales article, I enjoyed seeing the bidirectional relationship between being “disagreeable” and ostracism empirically studied. Right from the start, the authors address the unknown direction of the relationship in the introduction. While I found both parts interesting, I personally have not considered that disagreeableness can be “caused” by being ostracized. Even after a brief period of ostracism, subjects gave confederated MORE hot sauce than subjects who were not ostracized (Warburton, Williams, & Cairns, 2006). This goes to show that environmental influences and events can change not only behavior, but begs the reader to ask if it can change personality as well. Study 1 confirmed that ostracism and agreeableness were negatively correlated. Study 2 reported that people are more likely to ostracize a target who is lower in agreeableness, although this study was not done in vivo. I immediately started to think of the differences between stating I would ostracize someone and actually doing it. In Study 3, the Mason vignette was again used. As Caroline and I will be presenting on this article, we both noticed that the vignette was always a male figure. Would ostracism change or be affected by gender? Is it easier to ostracize a male versus a female? Nonetheless, the authors checked many other contributing factors such as fairness, liking, a gender differences in the subjects. I was not surprised that female subjects were more hesitant to ostracize the disagreeables and less hesitant to include the agreeables. While the authors attributed this difference to females being more communally oriented, I initially believed this would occur due to possible higher empathy/sympathy. The part of this paper that I found the be most noteworthy was that ostracism had an affect on becoming more disagreeable because people become angry and sad and that this affect can be LONG-LASTING! This supports theories that personality can indeed change overtime based on life events and that ostracism can be a particularly negative life event with lasting results.

    • Chalana Martin says:

      I have to agree with you Carly. It was very interesting

    • Hande says:

      Hi Carly,

      I agree with your comment in regards to the reason females are more hesitant to ostracize could be due to empathy/sympathy. I also think that traditionally female preferred occupations usually require more empathy/sympathy like teachers, nurses whereas occupations that are widely preferred by males are seen as more cutthroat like stock brokers or business/finance. Hopefully, in the near future we won’t make this kind of a comparison 🙂
      Overall, the study was interesting but to ostracize someone also depends on how invested you are in that person, we would be less likely to consider ostracizing a close friend comparing to “Mason”.

      • Tiara Newson says:

        I definitely understand where you are coming from Hande. Professions that require more empathy and agreeableness have seen to be occupied by women more so than men. This is likely caused to the fact that women naturally are known to have more of a nurturing nature, but a great portion is because woman have always been directed to be nurses, teachers, etc., and also agreeable. Most likely this will not be the case in the future, because things are definitely changing.

      • Carly Tocco says:

        When first reading the article I did not think about occupation differences as contributory to male/female differences. This was a great point! I too hope this discrepancy will continue to shrink with time.

      • Ashley Olivera says:

        Very interesting point guys! I agree, I think there would definitely be some evidence of sex differences when it comes to the active decision to ostracize someone. In general, women are seen as more empathic and nurturing, which would make the process of ostracism that much more difficult when its against a woman. It would have been interesting to see them use a female name for the vignettes. Although, woman tend to be more empathic and understanding, would that still be true if female participants were determining the potential ostracism of another female? It may be possible that a woman can gain more sympathy from men than from another woman. As the saying goes “Never send a man to do a woman’s job”.

      • Daniel Saldana says:

        Awesome point guys. Just to play devil’s advocate, if what everyone is seemingly proposing–which I believe is a generational shift regarding greater representation and equality among professions–perhaps there would be a similar relationship/loop as we’ve seen in this article. Being ostracized leads to greater levels of disagreeableness, and, we may hypothesize that being in occupations where we have to care for others may lead to greater levels of empathy/sympathy. So then, if there is greater and more equal representation in professions, such that women are becoming the “cutthroat brokers” in “business/finance,” would the effects of using social inclusion, as opposed to ostracism (to seemingly reward agreeableness) disappear. Specifically, here I reference the results from Study 4 in which only women were shown to demonstrate a significant decrease in their intention to ostracize an “agreeable” target.

    • Lexi says:

      Hi Carly. You make some great points about the paper. I think it would be interesting to look at a subset of participants who were ostracized but did not experience large amounts of anger or sadness that would lead to heightened disagreeableness. It would be interesting to parse out what might make one person susceptible and another resilient to the negative effects of ostracism. Maybe people with low serotonin are more susceptible to this effect than those with higher levels? Maybe those with ample social support would feel the brunt of ostracism less?

    • Melissa Henao says:

      Hi Carly, I really enjoyed reading your post and feel that it opened up a lot of different and important points for future studies. I also thought it was very interesting that the affect of ostracism on people is long lasting. We know certain life events can change a person but it definitely leaves an impression when we see it found in studies.

    • Karen Abraham says:

      Carly, I think your comment about the effects of ostracism on aggressive (hot sauce aggression, at least) and disagreeable behavior being long lasting was thought provoking. I wondered about the kind of behavioral economic/evo psych approach to why this response might be, and whether ostracism helps people form out-groups, which can lead them to their eventual in-group and thus be adaptive in some way. To your point on whether women might differentially respond as not ostracizing others, I’m curious in what ways gender influences a person’s willingness to say that the would ostracize somebody. This question comes from the social pressures against women expressing anger that we discussed in class, as well as the research on women and relational aggression. If women are more likely to commit relational aggression, which has similarities to the construct of ostracism, but less willing to endorse such behavior in a hypothetical scenario, where is the disconnect?

  2. Chalana Martin says:

    After reading this article I took away from it that Historically, ostracism was done to people who were considered very powerful and dangerous to the society based on their political, social, and economic views. Thus, leaders gathered and made a decision to solve the disagreement. In most cases such individuals were exiled. The process was done in two ways: casting a popular vote against the individual’s existence in the society or physically chasing away. Psychologically, ostracism is associated with a disagreement between two or more individuals. The disagreement makes the individuals separated to avoid troubles. Over the years, psychologists have attributed disagreeableness to the sole cause and consequence of ostracism. Arguably, this assertion is true because ostracism exists only when individuals disagree. In this article, Hales, Kassner, Williams, and Graziano (2016) examined the impact of disagreeableness in the society. Analytically, the study established that some individuals are excommunicated from the society based on their dangerous stands on sensitive aspects. Apparently, disagreement between two individuals or groups in most cases leads to ostracism.
    Ostracism is executed to avoid some of the dangers that might result from the disagreement. Hales et al. (2016) carried out several studies to establish the role of disagreeableness in ostracism. The study found that conflicting interests lead to the ostracism. Critically, people who have two different strong stands about certain aspects might up disagreeing. Notably, some might fight based on their strong believes about certain aspects. It is therefore appropriate to conclude that disagreeableness is the sole cause and consequence of ostracism as through ostracism a solution is always psychologically crafted since two people with conflicting interests are separated. Generally, without disagreement, ostracism cannot occur because all people agree on a particular aspect.

    • Mahathi Kosuri says:

      Chalana, I agree that ostracism exists when people degree but Im finding it hard to make the statement that it only occurs when individuals disagree. Can it be possible that one can be chosen to be ostracized for reasons other than negative? I find it hard to understand their conceptual definition of “disagreeableness” and whether people can be disagreeable even though they know it is the most “healthy” way to be within certain relationships (e.g. an emotionally volatile relationship). Is always being disagreeable seen as a trait that invokes negative responses? Great post!

    • Gabriella Robinson says:

      Chalana I think your point about when people actually disagree is interesting. While reading this article for the most part I was in the frame of mind of disagreeable/as someone who is off-putting, or does something that I find to be unfair or negative (like not helping a loyal friend move). But your comment makes me think about what if someone just has an opinion I disagree with; I wonder would I personally be more likely to ostracize them simply because I disagree with that opinion even if they are “agreeable” in other senses such as would be willing to help me move, and are a just and fair person.

  3. Melissa Henao says:

    When I first read the title and abstract of this study, I thought to myself how not surprising the bidirectionally of ostracism and disagreeable seemed.I really found it interesting all the types of studies they did to get to these results and the other information found in between. I really thought it was interesting how in Study 3 they pointed out that people expected other people to be agreeable unless they were given evidence to imply otherwise. Which makes me think if people really do not want to exclude others because or are just hopeful of the people they come across. I also like how they piggybacked some of the information and results from Study 3 onto Study 4 when talking about fairness. Again, I was not surprised to see that woman had decreased intentions to ostracize an agreeable. However, as some of my other classmates have mention, I do think it would be very interesting to see if they would have found the same results if the person in the scenarios was a woman. It is somewhat more understandable to see why people would want to exclude disagreeables. However, it is pretty important to see how some people may become disagreeable because they were already ostracized. What I wondered when reading this is how I wish there was more studies or data shown as to why people may been ostracized that they then became a disagreeable. I think this is a really important factor when doing study like this that shows the bi-direction. I think a study that shows different reasons as to why a person is being shut out and other factors of their personality would make an interesting study on how or why ostracizing a person may cause such a change in a personality trait that is supposed to be somewhat stable. I think this is a great study to branch off a whole bunch of new hypotheses for further studies.

    • Aditya Kulkarni says:

      Hello Melissa,

      I appreciated reading your post, especially your insight into the potential sex differences that may exist in social ostracism. Clinically, it’s seen that aggression between males and females express themselves phenotypically differently, with women typically relying on relational aggression versus men who use more physical means. In this case, there is an interesting threshold effect, where it seems a woman’s general “kindness” (I don’t even know what that would mean) interacts with the typical response to aggression: relational ostracism. I’m curious as well if primed (I.e. a confederate corroborates this deviant nature of the target) would women or men be more susceptible to ostracize.

      I also agree that there is a proscoail function of ostracism when dangerous deviance is involved and I think many many hypotheses can branch from here too.

    • Kathryn Dana says:

      Hey Melissa- I agree! A greater exploration of sex differences here would have been really interesting. And as you said, it seems that their findings can be a launching point for many further manipulations of a similar idea; the bidirectional nature we see in ostracism probably applies to many more social behaviors.

    • Chalana Martin says:

      Great post Mellissa. I agree that had they look more into sex differences in the studies, the findings would have been really interesting.

  4. Aditya Kulkarni says:

    This week I’ve chosen to reflect on the Hales et al. (2016) article, “Disagreeableness as a cause and consequence of ostracism.” In the introduction, the authors forward a really interesting correlation, one I’ve rarely considered: ostracism can induce a disagreeable disposition that would raise the possibility not only of antisocial but of prosocial responses from the target. Ostracism as a helpful behavior is a rare narrative in the modern, inclusive climate—one which would proscribe ostracism unless in the service of reducing dangerous deviance. While the current study takes the perspective from the source of the ostracism, I’d be really curious to see from a target perspective is it truly effortful control, as the authors forward in the discussion, which mediates the prosocial response or some aversion to the disagreeable trait? We saw in Steimer’s strengths and weaknesses article that people tend to view their weaknesses as malleable, especially when primed to feel that a certain quality is deemed a weakness. What then registers in an individual when they receive a social rejection response from the crowd? What mediates the prosocial response? Study 4 had participants read vignettes that primed them to feel the target was agreeable or disagreeable and then rate their level of trust in the target. I think a reverse manipulation, in which the target is primed to feel viewed as agreeable or disagreeable by manipulating the perception of a quirk or trait they have, and then see what their 1) trust levels are, 2) what their intentions to behave prosaically or antisocially are, and 3) because it was a really funny experiment in the introduction, repeat the hot sauce manipulation or have the choice to give water to a confederate who has been “burned.” I believe that this study takes a really comprehensive look at the varying levels of agreeableness from the source perspective, and could be furthered by manipulation reversals to see what people who are the target would do after being primed (essentially an extension of Warburton, Williams, & Cairns, 2006).

  5. Karen Abraham says:

    In this week’s article, I took away that Disagreeableness and Ostracism exist in a circular relationship in which being ostracized results in disagreeable behavior mediated by anger, and being disagreeable results in further ostracism, mediated by a lack of interpersonal trust and sense of fairness. Overall, this article led me to think about disagreeableness in a somewhat different way that I had previously. My quick-and-dirty sense of disagreeableness had previously been something more like “contrarian,” which is a trait I can sometimes enjoy in others, but this article highlighted the lack of prosocial behavior, warmth and trustworthiness aspects of disagreeableness. Methodologically, I don’t know if this is common practice, but I thought it was clever for them to hide their personality and experiences of ostracism questions in with other irrelevant questions in Study 1. Their sample ostracism question “In general, others treat me as if I am invisible” made me wonder about the interaction that extraversion might have with that experience. In study 2, I was struck by the claims around ostracism by the authors when a total of 5 choices of ostracism across any condition occurred with an n=110 (from table 2), even if half of those participants were reading vignettes that were unlikely to provoke ostracism. I’m also curious who is this participant who wanted to ostracize the agreeable Mason who canceled his plans to help Laura move, and why are 6 participants confronting Mason in that condition? Furthermore, I am struggling to understand this statement in the results of study 2 “People were more likely to ostracize the disagreeable target when he refused to help, t(54) = 2.83, p = .007, d = 0.76, 95% CI = [0.21, 1.30], **and also when he agreed to help,** t(55) = 4.33, p < .001, d = 1.15, 95% CI = [0.58, 1.71].” when table 2 shows that no participant chose to ostracize the disagreeable target in the prosocial condition (in which he agreed to help). The lack of endorsement for the intent to ostracize option is something that I think speaks to a kind of behavior that might need to be studied using a different kind of measure than directly asking “I might find myself ignoring Mason,” and “ostracize him,” as answer choices.

    • Susie McHugh says:

      Karen – I didn’t even realize that there was a participant who wanted to ostracize Mason after he canceled his plans to help Laura move. I agree that this is highly worthy of investigation by the team, and some serious thought and hypothetical deduction on the mental health or personality characteristics that underly this response pattern. Good catch.

    • Chalana Martin says:

      Karen, this was a great post. I have to agree that after reading this, it definitely gave me a new way of looking at disagreement and how it correlates to obstracization. The study regarding mason being ostracized for being agreeable was a perfect example and I love how you connected it.

    • Caroline Nester says:

      Karen – I love how you bring up the circular reasoning aspect of the premise of this article. It seems to me to be a potential weakness in their argument… Is ostracism merely a result of disagreeableness? Is disagreeableness merely just a result of ostracism? It creates a loop that is impossible to explain or critique. This has given me a lot to think about before the presentation tomorrow… Thank you!

  6. Susie McHugh says:

    The authors of this article covered a lot of ground in their six-study package on bidirectionality of cause between disagreeableness and ostracism. They point out in their introduction, several additional, meaningful consequences of ostracism, such as reduced self-esteem, sense of “meaningful existence,” having fewer friends, and a higher likelihood of being bullied. In childhood, we (I) learned that the bullies often experienced some form of bullying at home, or experienced difficulties in life otherwise, that led to them developing coping mechanisms wherein they demanded control over their peers. I see this as first-hand, anecdotal evidence supporting the authors’ hypothesized bidirectional link between the two variables of interest. However, I find the current studies’ failure to observe real-life interactions between humans in favor of self-report measures of predicted behavior, as a serious limitation to this study (which the authors cite, themselves, as such).

    The Cyberball ostracism simulation reminded me very much of the “moderate anger-provoking” vignette described in the Marshall & Brown (2006) article we read earlier in the semester, wherein participants were asked to imagine that a co-shopper at the grocery store checked out in the express lane, with more than the suggested maximum number of items. I remember in class some people criticized this condition as one that would not, in fact, provoke anger, even in minimally aggressive people. Analogously, I am not sure that being “ostracized” the way Cyberball players were is necessarily enough to provoke state disagreeableness. I cannot imagine that the majority of participants here would have been sufficiently motivated to succeed at Cyberball, enough to influence state disagreeableness. As someone who has experienced great stress over loss in video games, I think that if a researcher approached me on campus and asked me to play a video game for the purpose of measuring my “mental visualization,” I might not have been too moved by the other video game characters not throwing the ball to me – especially if I was in a good mood to begin with. Pre-Cyberball measures of state agreeableness may have helped the authors say with certainty that Cyberball was the event that changed participants’ state. Additionally, I think that if baited with a groovy incentive to win Cyberball, such as a $100 gift card, or a smart tablet, such an incentive may have increased participants’ motivation to succeed at Cyberball, and led to greater frustration and disagreeableness.

    Finally, while I generally find myself persuaded by the authors’ findings that ostracism and disagreeableness are strongly related, I find myself wondering where this fits in to my future career as a psychologist, and how I can use this research to inform treatments. I think the generality of findings to real-life therapeutic situations would add meaningfulness to this high quality research if, at the very least, broad treatment recommendations or general suggestions on how we can improve the lives of the ostracized were discussed.

    • Emnet Gammada says:

      Susie, I also had the same thought about relating these findings to inform treatment. Especially given that the author’s highlight that ostracism leads to antisocial behaviors like aggression. I found myself thinking specifically about oppositional defiant disorder. Social learning theory posits that the defiant behaviors seen in ODD are reinforced through the child’s early environment, leading to ineffective coping mechanisms that may lead isolating behavior. From my experience, the social consequences provided early on in the child’s environment play a huge part in strengthening the defiant behavior. Hence effective treatment should focus on the social processes in the family that contribute to behavior.

    • Chalana Martin says:

      Great post susie.

    • Safa Shehab says:

      I also thought – like both of you Susie and Emnet, of how these findings could be used in therapy, but from a more behavioral point of view, whereby people who get ostracized often would have learned the response of being more disagreeable and even antisocial in group contexts. I like Emnet’s social learning explanation, which hadn’t crossed my mind, but was also thinking the “disagreeable” person, who might not have learned the appropriate social skills in group interaction, can be shown how their behaviors might be affecting how others view them and taught these skills in therapy.

  7. Kathryn Dana says:

    I found the Hales article to be a very interesting read. I appreciated how thorough the authors were in assessing potential mediators in the relationship between ostracism and agreeableness. The mediators of interpersonal trust and importance of fairness to the individual added a lot of depth to the understanding of this relationship from the perspective of one doing the ostracizing. Further, the finding that feelings of anger experienced by those ostracized can lead to even MORE ostracism was fascinating, and underscores the interactive nature of ostracism in social settings.

    After reading the article, I thought about those doing the ostracizing as engaging in a sort of “self-fulfilling prophecy”, such that their initial judgments about a person’s disagreeableness and subsequent ostracism could evoke further disagreeable behavior from the person who was ostracized. These new/increased disagreeable behaviors could confirm the initial judgments of the person who ostracized the other person, furthering the cycle of ostracism. I wonder if this relationship might appear with positive impressions of others as well. Would we see a similar pattern with assessments of high agreeableness in others and inclusive behaviors? For example, if a person has a first impression of another person such that they believe the second person is very agreeable, the first person may be more likely to invite the second person into an existing social group. Perhaps the second person would display positive affect and highly agreeable behavior with this friend group as a reaction to her happiness that she is included. The first person may interpret this behavior as evidence that she correctly assessed second as agreeable and the second person would be likely to continue to be included. Logically, the idea that this series of events might mirror what we saw with disagreeableness in the study makes sense to me, but perhaps there would be a completely different paradigm for agreeableness and inclusive behaviors.

    • Melissa Chavez says:


      It would be interesting to see the relationship between positive impressions. The example you gave makes me think essentially how relationships and communities are built. I wonder though how it would be presented in a study mainly because there could be many confounds that could affect positive impressions.

  8. Chalana Martin says:

    Kathryn, what a way to look at it. Great post.

Leave a Reply




Spam prevention powered by Akismet

Skip to toolbar