Research paper on research methods


The main aim of this paper is to analyze, evaluate and postulate the results of an in-class experiment that was carried out to test the relationship between the intentions of ostracism and people in extreme groups. 73 participants aged between 19 to 25 years took part in the survey that involved completing a series of vignettes and manipulation checks on a hypothetical individual, ‘ Mason’ and his perceived involvement in extreme groups. The 2 x 2 between-subjects factorial experimental design was used for the research. The results indicated high intentions to ostracize Mason due to his involvement in an extreme group. From the survey it is evident that individuals are more likely to be ostracized when involved with in a negative group with extreme actions.


Ostracism is a universal form of social control that entails individuals being ignored and excluded by either one or more people. It often thwarts the satisfaction of some of the basic individual psychological needs including self-esteem, sense of belonging and meaningful existence. Ostracism is usually painful since it sometimes involves physical assault and verbal abuse and as a result unleashes a variety of cognitive, physiological, behavioral and affective responses. Those who detect ostracism usually attempt to change their behaviors in order to be admitted or readmitted to certain groups of interest. According to an article and research by Carter-Sowell et al., these changes may be extreme and trigger the excessive social susceptibility to influence (2008). The article is relevant and important since it has a direct focus on the implications of ostracism on social susceptibility. Ostracized individuals from experiments and researches are still susceptible to subsequent influence attempts. A focus on the implications of ostracism-induced social susceptibility should be evaluated to reduce its negative effects on victims.
Ostracism has been studied in various laboratory settings due to its negative effects on interpersonal experiences and relationships. This is concurrent with the facts from a study by Nezlek et al, covered in an article that explains the motives behind ostracism as ambiguous especially since it is a daily occurrence that focuses on the reflective actions of individuals (2012). Most episodes of ostracism are from people of equal status and victims are observed to be extremely affected when ostracized by close friends, acquaintances and relatives. Their needs of belonging are threatened more when they react negatively to oblivious, defensive and punitive ostracism as opposed to ambiguous or role based ostracism. The reflective effects of ostracism vary is a function of why individuals feel ostracized and the perpetrators of the ostracism. The relevance of the article in the paper is drawn from its emphasis on the close relationship between the victims and the perpetrators of ostracism.
The research survey had an emphasis and commitment to answer the question of whether or not individuals ostracize people in extreme groups. The close correlation between the ostracized individuals and extreme groups was the propulsive force that set the motion for the research. The fact that some individuals in a community of people feel left out, are given cold-shoulders and treated as invisible has been observed to increase their likelihood of joining extreme groups and cults in some instances. Experiments carried out on such individuals indicated an increased interest in joining extremist gangs after exposure to continual ostracism (Carter-Sowell et al., 2008). This validates the conclusion and apparent continuous chain that ostracized individuals is driven to extreme groups which in turn lead to further ostracism.
Response to ostracism both for the victims and perpetrators is dynamic and diverse often depending on a number of different factors. Individuals are usually more likely to be ostracized due to their activities and participation in extremist groups. These groups undertake extreme actions that are against the social construct and norms of communities of people. This deviance is what drives and propels ostracism because of its negative effects to the positive and healthy growth and development of a society. It is a form of counter-action and policing by individuals as they attempt to take the law into their hands and prove that they are capable of taking care of the societal ills within their vicinity (Nezlek, 2012). This evaluation explains the close relationship under study and drives towards a valid conclusion that ostracism is highly targeted towards individuals involved in negative extremist activities and groups. Ostracism is therefore directional hence the hypothesis stating that individuals are more willing to ostracize targets who belong the negative and extreme groups.
Present studies have attempted to examine the effects of social ostracism on both the perpetrators and victims of ostracism. Unlike previous researches that have compared social inclusion to ostracism, its comparison shows a unique form of social conflict whereby the perpetrators of ostracism report lower satisfaction levels that the perpetrators need satisfaction levels than targets. The sources of ostracism on the other hand have higher levels of satisfaction than the sources of arguments. It is important for the causal factors of ostracism to be evaluated in order to reduce its effects. Ignorance, rejection and segregation are some of the major causes of ostracism. For ostracism to be reduced, rejection of individuals has to be reduced. When victims are reconsidered, accepted and integrated back into the society they feel a sense of belonging and reassurance (Nezlek, 2012). This in turn increases their levels of self-worth and social approval (Carter-Sowell et al., 2008). When this is achieved, they are less likely to be socially susceptible to external and peer influence into joining negative extreme groups. Positive extreme groups with moderate actions instead become the main focus after values of belief and trust are inculcated in them. From the experiment, individuals in positive groups are socially accepted within close societal circles and more often thrive than their counter groups like the white supremacy group in the survey. Extreme actions in negative groups yield a higher likelihood of ostracism. It is therefore conceivable that moderate actions for positive groups achieve the opposite of the initial proposition which consequently leads to the reduction in ostracism rates.


The survey was carried out during an ‘ Introduction to research methods’ lab class and involved an in-class experiment that was handed to the participants in the class. The total number of participants was 73 with a composition of 55 women and 17 men within the age bracket of 19 to 25 years, most were 20 years of age. The 2 x 2 between-subjects factorial experimental design method was used due to the presence of two independent variables. These included the target group as either negative or positive as the white supremacy or civil rights group respectively and the extremity of the target groups from moderate to extreme whereby blockading the campus was considered extreme and writing letters, moderate. The dependent variables were similarly two including the series of manipulation checks with statements like, “ Mason is a member of a group that takes extreme action” and “ Mason is a member of a bad group” and ostracism Intentions contained in a 7-item questionnaire on the hypothetical responses to Mason. The mean and standard deviation were the units of measurement that were used for recording the scores of the study particularly because of their efficacy in recording and analysis. The behavior manipulation checks of the participants were measured in mean and standard deviation as part of measures to address diversity and discrepancies. Higher scores meant a higher likelihood to ostracize.
The survey was carried out after consensual agreement from the participants who were then provided with a vignette that described ‘ Mason’ a hypothetical individual. From the vignettes they were expected to picture the type of person Mason was and attempt to describe their relationship with him on whether or not they would like to spend time with him. The reading of the vignettes was randomly assigned regardless of the participants conditions who were to then verify their comprehension on Mason with questions that included manipulation checks. Each of the vignettes described Mason as belonging to either a good or bad group like the white supremacy or civil rights. The activities of the groups were also indicated as extreme or moderate and hence making a total of four possible vignettes.
The vignette included statements like “ Mason is a 19 year-old sophomore engineering student at Purdue”, “ he loves reading and his favorite books are fantasy, but he also enjoys an occasional legal thriller” and “ school is very important to him, since he wants to graduate with a good GPA and become a mechanical engineer”. This among others described his character and interests in movies, cooking and his daily itinerary. Another notable vignette highlighted Mason as a dedicated intern at a local engineering firm who is given good reviews by his supervisor especially since he likes working at the firm because for the valuable experience he acquires. The last sections of the vignette describe his recent interests in some certain political groups like the white supremacy. A detailed account of the activities of the group like lecture walk-outs, disruption of class sessions and blockading are listed to assist with a moderation of the intensity of the actions. Mild actions like distribution of pamphlets, writing letters and submission of letters to the school newspaper are similarly indicated.
Participants then responded to twelve questions in a questionnaire about their likelihood to ostracize Mason. The seven items were averaged to form a measure for “ ostracism intentions”, which became the primary dependent variable. The responses were made on a scale of 5 from strongly disagree to strongly agree. Higher scores noted indicated greater intentions to ostracize targets. The questionnaire included items like, ‘ I would find myself ignoring Mason’, ‘ I would invite Mason to events with our group of friends’ and ‘ I would want to encourage other people to ignore Mason’. Some other statements were ‘ I would feel the urge to give Mason the silent treatment’; ‘ I might consider turning my back on Mason and ‘ I would feel reluctant to respond to Mason if he asked for a favor’. Other shorter sentiments touched on whether or not Mason would be excluded, given attention, ignored or cut off. The survey ended with a final section where the participants responded to questions on their age, ethnicity and gender.


An analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted to determine whether or not individual ostracize targets in negative extreme groups and P < 0. 05 was considered as statistically significant. The overall results for the personality manipulation check recorded low means and standard deviations for involvement in the positive group. Involvement in positive groups with extreme actions had higher mean scores of 1. 93 than in that with moderate actions, 1. 47. The negative group had higher scores with extreme actions recording higher scores, 4. 47 than the group with moderate actions, 3. 81. The SDs for the positive group was 0. 96 for extreme actions and 0. 64 for moderate actions, while those for the negative groups were 1. 02 for moderate actions and 1. 40 for the extreme actions. The pattern of consistency of the results was similar for both the manipulation checks and the dependent variable, ostracism intentions. The significance levels gradually improved from the variables of group type, group extremity and personality behavior with a record of p < . 001, p = . 034 and p = . 706 respectively in the personality manipulation check section.
A significant difference was observed across rejection conditions for belonging and affirmation conditions on belonging. Rejection conditions indicated a higher score of joining extremist groups and affirmation on the other hand indicated lower scores. Individuals who are affirmed and accepted into the society feel a sense of belonging and as a result divert their attention to positive groups that have moderate actions. Those continually left out seek refuge in negative groups with extreme actions. An interaction between the two postulated results of rejection and affirmation conditioning balanced either way between joining of extremist positive or negative extremist groups.


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Nezlek, John. B., Wesselmann, Eric. D., Wheeler, Ladd., Williams, Kipling. D. (2012).
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Sethi, Nisha., Moulds, Michelle. L., Richardson, Rick. (2013). The role of focus of attention and
Reappraisal in prolonging the negative effects of ostracism. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 17(2), 110-123.