NSF Funds Illinois Wesleyan Study Into Causes and Impacts of Social Exclusion
February 27, 2012
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— What causes some of us to be ignored or feel isolated, how do these
feelings impact us and what can we do about them? Gaining insights into these and
other questions related to what psychologists call “social exclusion” will be the
subject of a three-year National Science Foundation-funded study conducted by two
Illinois Wesleyan psychology professors and their students.
“Persistent and chronic social exclusion has very powerful consequences and impacts,”
says Illinois Wesleyan Assistant Professor of Psychology Jason Themanson, who will
lead the study. “Profound feelings of depression, loneliness, anxiety and helplessness
associated with exclusion can change one’s life, which is why it’s so important to
deepen our understanding of the process and the triggers that lead people to feel
Themanson’s investigation builds on his own past research and studies by others that
have shown strong relationships between neural activity and the feelings of exclusion.
Along with co-investigator Professor Joe Williams and student researchers, Themanson
will examine patterns of brain activity during simulated social interactions.
The research will explore how perceptions of exclusion come to develop, what types
of interactions can lead to exclusion, and what other factors may influence the development
of feelings of exclusion. It will also examine the interactions between those who
were previously included and excluded, the process by which those who were excluded
regain acceptance and the subtle clues or changes in social interactions that lead
The National Science Foundation is supporting this latest research, which will begin
in May and run through April 2015, with a grant of $148,106. Findings will be reported
annually and published in scientific journals.
Contact: Matt Kurz (309) 556-3203