Imaging the brain at multiple scales: how to integrate multi...
Dangers of social exclusion: school shootings?
Girls only going to the toilet in groups, watching bands at a music festival simultaneously with tens of thousands of people, cheering the same lines during a soccer game with all other spectators of the match, going to that party even thought you would have much preferred to do something quiet; doesn’t it all sound crazy? Yet, we will probably keep on doing all this since human beings have an “urge to community” (Ferguson, 1989). This natural feeling to belong can be explained by the finding that social bonds boosted our ancestors’ survival rates (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). Therefore the human beings with the strongest feelings of needing to belong reproduced their genes most successfully (Myers 2008).“We spend a great deal of time thinking about actual and hoped-for relations” (Myers 2008). Knowing all this, consider the outcasts everyone has known during the time you grew up (or consider them now if you haven’t passed that stage yet), they have missed this essential feeling to belong. Naturally almost everyone had a time in which they must have felt rejected from a group, but what extreme effects can long-term social exclusion have to a person in their most emotionally sensitive time, namely adolescence?
Adolescents not fitting in are a major problem. As I highlighted in my blog about the most famous channels (held by teens) on YouTube: “Popularity is important during adolescence, because it highly correlates with social recognition (Demant 2006). An extreme case of social exclusion combined with bullying is the case of Charles Andrew Williams, who took a gun to his high school in California and started shooting. Of course unforgiveable, but as an article on guns in high schools states: “Was there, this time, a measure of pity for a lost boy, who seemed to have had nowhere to go, who wore a silver necklace with the word mouse on it, who called at least three of his friends' mothers Mom, who in the end seemed to want nothing more than to be taken seriously and to be taken, at last, into somebody's custody?” (Gibbs 2001). This is of course an extreme case but research has shown that the brain really is highly affected because of social exclusion: “While the effects of ostracism on need threat were broadly similar between age groups, as predicted by Williams’ need threat model, mood was more negatively affected after an episode of ostracism in both groups of adolescents than in adults...these experimental findings complement self-report studies showing hypersensitivity to social rejection during adolescence” (Sebastian, Viding, Williams, Blakemore 2009). Still, these results of more negative mood and hypersensitivity do not fully explain these extreme cases but you could state that they are linked.
Humans are social beings and unfortunately this phenomenom goes hand in hand with social exclusion. To exclude other people seems to make human beings feel more socially safe themselves. Adults (who indeed also exclude) should pay more attention to social exclusion in adolescents because the results from these behaviours can be much more extreme due to greater impact.
Baumeister, R.F., & Leary, M.R., The need to belong: desire for interpersonal attacchements as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological bulletin 117, 497-529., 1995
Catherine Sebastiana, , , Essi Vidingb, Kipling D. Williamsc and Sarah-Jayne Blakemorea Social brain development and the affective consequences of ostracism in adolescence Brain and Cognition , Volume 72, Issue 1, February 2010, Pages 134-145, 2009
Demant. J, Jarvinen. M, Constructing maturity through alcohol experience - Focus group interviews with teenagers, Addiction research and Theory, 14 (6): 589-602, 2006.
Ferguson, E.D. Adler’s motivational theory: An historical perspective on belonging and the and the fundamental human striving. Individual psychology 45, 354-361., 1989
Gibbs, N, 'IT'S ONLY ME,' Time, 0040781X, 03/19/2001, Vol. 157, Issue 11 Business Source Premier, 2001
Myers, D,G,. Psychology, ninth edition, Hope College, Holland, Michigan,Worth Publishers, p.476-478, 2008