New study: Emotional and behavioral consequences of cyberostracism

25 Jan 2021

In their new experimental study, Simona Galbavá, Hana Macháčková, and Lenka Dědková examined impacts of ostracism on social networks. Even very subtle signs of ostracism lead to lower satisfaction of people's needs (belonging, self-esteem, meaningful existence, control) and to worsened mood. The study was published in the journal Comunicar.


This study focuses on the effect of cyberostracism on social networking sites. Based on the temporal need-threat model of ostracism, we examined

  • reflexive reactions, specifically worsened mood and threats to the four fundamental needs (i.e., belongingness, self-esteem, meaningful existence, and control), and
  • reflective reactions, in the form of prosocial, antisocial, and avoidance behavior. We also focused on the role of social anxiety.

Using the experimental tool Ostracism Online, we conducted an online experiment to manipulate ostracism, measure self-reported reflexive reactions, and measure reflective reactions in a newly developed cooperative financial game. The participants were 196 young Czech adults (age 18-30; 62% women).
T-tests showed worsened mood and higher threat connected to all four of the fundamental needs in the reflexive stage in ostracized participants. Regression models showed that social anxiety had a small effect on reflexive reactions, but it did not moderate the effect of ostracism. The type of threatened need and social anxiety did not predict a reflective reaction. The only significant predictor of antisocial response was experienced ostracism. Even a mild form of ostracism such as the lack of reactions by strangers to a shared post can lead to negative emotional and behavioral consequences.

Please cite the study as:
Galbava, S., Machackova, H., & Dedkova, L. (2021). Cyberostracism: Emotional and behavioral consequences in social media interactions. Comunicar, 29(67). DOI: 10.3916/C67-2021-01


Title image credit: Designed by / Freepik

Read the full study here


Ostracism is a form of social exclusion in which one is ignored by others and usually does not know why.

In our experiment, ostracism was induced by providing small number of reactions in a virtual group.

Even very subtle signs of ostracism in such ad hoc SNS group lead to lower satisfaction of the needs to belong, self-esteem, meaningful existence, control, and to worsened mood. Social anxiety does not influence this effect, but is related the lower satisfaction of needs.

People in an ostracized condition also choose an antisocial response more often than people in a control condition.

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