Seven experiments showed that the effects of social acceptance and social exclusion on self-regulatory performance depend on the prospect of future acceptance. Excluded participants showed decrements in self-regulation, but these decrements were eliminated if the self-regulation task was ostensibly a diagnostic indicator of the ability to get along with others. No such improvement was found when the task was presented as diagnostic of good health. Accepted participants, in contrast, performed relatively poorly when the task was framed as a diagnostic indicator of interpersonally attractive traits. Furthermore, poor performance among accepted participants was not due to self-handicapping or overconfidence. Offering accepted participants a cash incentive for self-regulating eliminated the self-regulation deficits. These findings provide evidence that the need to belong fits standard motivational patterns: Thwarting the drive intensifies it, whereas satiating it leads to temporary reduction in drive. Accepted people are normally good at self-regulation but are unwilling to exert the effort to self-regulate if self-regulation means gaining the social acceptance they have already obtained.
- social acceptance
- social rejection