Benefits of belonging: Experimental manipulation of social inclusion to enhance psychological and physiological health parameters

Fiona Begen, Julie Turner-Cobb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: Acute changes in social belonging are important triggers for alterations in health and well-being, yet research has emphasised the negative effects of ‘exclusion’ at the expense of evaluating the potentially positive effects of ‘inclusion’. This study examined the impact of acute belonging on physiological and psychological outcomes.

Design and main outcome measures: A healthy population (N = 138) were randomly allocated to ‘included’ or ‘excluded’ conditions. Condition-dependent differences in pre/during-task heart rate and pre/post-task self-reports of negative/positive mood, and social self-esteem, were assessed.

Results: Included participants showed decreased heart rate and negative mood, and increased social self-esteem. No inclusion-related change in positive mood was shown. An increase in heart rate was observed in excluded participants though no changes in negative/positive mood or social self-esteem were shown. Shifts in social self-esteem acted as a mechanism through which inclusion/exclusion impacted upon negative and positive mood alterations. Results remained significant in presence of covariates (sex, global self-esteem, rumination and social anxiety).

Conclusion: Findings suggest that acting to enhance belonging through ‘inclusion’ resulted in adaptive physiological and psychological outcomes. Neutral and potentially protective responses were observed in the immediate aftermath of ‘exclusion’. Self-esteem served as one route through which these effects were transmitted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-582
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology and Health
Volume30
Issue number5
Early online date22 Dec 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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