Affective and cognitive impact of social overinclusion: a meta-analytic review of cyberball studies

Cognition and Emotion 37 (3):412-429 (2023)
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Abstract

Belongingness is a central biopsychosocial system. Challenges to belongingness (i.e. exclusion/ostracism) engender robust negative effects on affect and cognitions. Whether overinclusion – getting more than one’s fair share of social attention – favourably impacts affect and cognitions remains an open question. This pre-registered meta-analysis includes twenty-two studies (N = 2757) examining overinclusion in the context of the Cyberball task. We found that the estimated overall effect size of overinclusion on positive affect was small but robust, and the effect on fundamental needs cognitions (belongingness, self-esteem, meaningful existence and control) was moderate in size and positive in direction. Notably, the effect sizes of overinclusion were smaller than the corresponding effects of exclusion. Finally, the effects of overinclusion on positive affect were greater for high, as compared to low, socially anxious individuals. Exploring the sequelae of the full range of inclusion experiences – from exclusion to overinclusion – may enrich our understanding of the functioning of the belongingness system as well as its interaction with another central biosocial system – the social status system.

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