chapter  17
14 Pages

The Evolution of an Ostracism Detection System: Jennifer R. Spoor and Kipling D. Williams

For animals, ostracism from the group is often the first step toward starvation and early death (Goodall, 1986). Ostracism, exclusion and rejection by others (Williams, 2001), is a ubiquitous phenomenon among humans, occurring around the world and throughout history. In this chapter, we suggest that evolutionary pressures favoring group and cooperative living shaped an ostracism detection system that is sensitive to rejection from groups and close others. As such, humans are acutely sensitive to actual and threatened rejection. After ostracism has occurred, the system works to cope with the rejection and, in many situations, obtain reacceptance into the group.