Across two studies Kenneth Tai and his colleagues prompted some of their participants to feel socially excluded, either by giving them false feedback on a personality questionnaire („You’re the type who will end up alone later in life“) or by contriving an uncomfortable situation in a group task with other participants („I hate to tell you this, but no one chose you as someone they wanted to work with“). Other participants were given more heartening feedback (e.g. lots of people chose you to be in their group) and acted as a comparison.
Next, all the participants had to rate a „consumer product“ – a 80cm, furry teddy bear. Some of the participants were given the teddy bear to hold; others evaluated him from a distance.
The researchers were interested in how being socially excluded would influence the participants‘ willingness to volunteer for more experiments in the future, and their willingness to share money with another person in an economic game (both taken to be signs of pro-social behaviour). And most of all, the researchers wanted to know if touching a teddy first would make any difference to these behaviours.
It did. Socially excluded participants who had the chance to touch the teddy bear were more likely to volunteer for future experiments and they shared money more generously with another participant. By contrast, touching the teddy made no difference to the behaviour of participants who weren’t socially excluded.
Den Schluss mit dem sozialeren Verhalten ziehe ich zwar zumindest bei der Geldleihfrage nicht (und wenn ich das Paper richtig verstanden habe, ist der Unterschied auch den Autor*innen nicht signifikant genug), aber interessant finde ich das allemal — und die Discussion und Future Research im Paper werfen weitere interessante Fragen auf.
(PS: Wer sich fragt, was wohl die armen Teufel mit sich machten, nachdem man ihnen erzaehlte, dass keiner sie mag: „Given the nature of the exclusion manipulation, participants were thoroughly debriefed before being dismissed.“