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Ostracism

  • By: Kipling D. Williams & Adrienne R. Carter-Sowell
  • In: Encyclopedia of Social Psychology
  • Edited by: Roy F. Baumeister & Kathleen D. Vohs
  • Subject:Social Psychology (general)
Definition

Ostracism refers to the act of ignoring and excluding individuals. It is differentiated from social exclusion in that ostracism generally requires ignoring or lack of attention in addition to social exclusion. Ostracism is distinguishable from overt acts of rejection and bullying because rather than combining acts of exclusion with verbal or physical abuse, ostracism involves giving no or little attention to the individual or groups.

Context and Importance

Ostracism is a powerful and universal social phenomenon. Individuals and groups ostracize and are ostracized. A variety of species other than humans have been observed using ostracism, usually to strengthen the group (by eliminating weaker or nonconforming members). Ostracism among humans was first known to be occurring in Athens more than 2,000 years ago, where citizens voted to expel ...

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