Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communications


Tamara M. Chock


aggression, criticism, media, online, rejection, social media

Subject Categories



A three-condition (rejection, criticism, control) single-factor experiment (N = 77) on a mock social-networking site similar to Facebook reveals that even a slight rejection - not being allowed to join groups on the site - lead to increases in self-reported negative affect and retaliation against the site and the rejecting groups compared to a control. Subjects who were accepted into the groups but then criticized experienced the same increases in negative affect and retaliatory aggression, as those who were not allowed to join. In addition, men showed heightened retaliatory aggression compared to women and responded differently to criticism than women. However, no significant effects were found by condition in regard to arousal, physiologically measured affect, attempts to restore relational value, triggered displaced aggression, or feelings associated with ostracism. Findings suggest that while rejection and criticism cause emotional pain, they do not hurt as much as ostracism. Results are discussed in relation to the belongingness hypothesis, sociometer theory, the ostracism model, and face theory. Gender differences are explored using social cognitive theory.


Open Access

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Communication Commons