chapter
17 Pages

About flames and boogeymen

Social norms affect individuals’ construal of social exclusion
WithRainer Greifeneder, Selma C. Rudert

This chapter suggests that there is good reason to challenge the flame metaphor, and that reflexive social pain is not invariably experienced, but cognitively mediated. Kipling D. Williams compared social ostracism with touching a flame, as it presumably hurts no matter what. Williams argued that an automatic reflexive response has co-evolved with the widespread use of social exclusion by groups and societies throughout mankind. Being socially excluded is generally a painful experience that most individuals can relate to because of their own experiences at school or work. Cognitive situating requires a certain level of ambiguity of the objective exclusion situation. Social norms specify what kind of behavior is collectively agreed on, and can therefore be expected from others. One social norm that is particularly important in the context of social exclusion research is the norm of being included. The end states of the flame versus boogeyman analogies are often in accordance: not-being-part hurts.