Living on the edge: Dynamics of intragroup and intergroup rejection experiences
Rejection is a painful experience. Considerable research has shown that people are negatively affected by exclusion because their intrinsic need for belongingness is violated (Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Tajfel & Turner, 1979). Those who are excluded are prone to feelings of alienation, depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and loneliness, and they are more likely to engage in self-defeating behavior (Baumeister & Tice, 1990; Cozzarelli & Karafa, 1998; Rosenberg, 1979; Twenge, Cantanese, & Baumeister, 2002). While no one disputes the harmful and painful effects that rejection can lead to, what is unresolved is how those who are rejected react to their treatment. We know that following rejection some individuals distance themselves from the group, criticize and potentially even damage it, and some even betray the group that rejects them (e.g., Lewin, 1948; Schuetz, 1944; Twenge, Baumeister, Tice, & Stucke, 2001). On the other hand, those who are rejected may also maintain their loyalty and aspire to meet the norms or standards of the group even more strenuously (e.g., Breakwell, 1979; Noel, Wann, & Branscombe, 1995; Tajfel, 1978). Similarly, at the group level, groups that are marginalized in society or are rejected by other social groups may seek ways of gaining greater acceptance, or they can turn against and reject those who marginalize their group.