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Green with envy: Ostracism increases aggressive tendencies


Poon, K. T., To, N., Lo, W. Y., Wong, N. H. L., Jiang, Y., & Chan, R. S. W. (in press). Green with envy: Ostracism increases aggressive tendencies. Current Psychology

2020 Impact Factor 4.297 | 5-year Impact Factor 3.544

2020 JCR Rank 23/140, Q1 in Psychology, Multidisciplinary


Previous research has provided ample evidence that being a victim of ostracism increases the enactment of aggressive behavior; however, it is unclear how emotions may account for the link. In this research, we aimed to address this knowledge gap by investigating whether being ostracized increases malicious envy and whether this emotion accounts for the link between ostracism and direct aggressive tendencies. We conducted two studies to test our prediction that ostracism increases malicious envy, thereby increasing direct aggressive tendencies. In Study 1, participants completed measures to assess their experiences of ostracism, malicious envy, and aggressive tendencies. In Study 2, participants were asked to play an online ball-tossing game, during which those in the ostracism condition were ostracized, whereas participants in the control condition did not experience ostracism. After the game, participants completed measures assessing their malicious envy and aggressive tendencies. The results of both studies consistently showed that ostracized participants reported higher levels of malicious envy and aggressive tendencies than nonostracized participants. Moreover, malicious envy mediated the link between ostracism and aggressive tendencies. In sum, we provided innovative empirical evidence showing how trait-level (Study 1) and state-level (Study 2) malicious envy can predict the direct aggressive tendencies in individuals who suffer from ostracism.

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