Washington, April 4 (IANS) People who are ignored by others online may feel just as bad as if they had been excluded in person, according to a new study.
"If you've ever felt bad about being 'ignored' on Facebook you're not alone," said Joshua Smyth, professor of bio-behavioural health and of medicine at Penn State, who co-authored the study.
"Facebook -- with its approximately 800 million users -- serves as a place to forge social connections; however, it is often a way to exclude others without the awkwardness of a face-to-face interaction," said Smyth, the journal Computers in Human Behaviour reported.
Most people would probably expect that being ignored or rejected via a remote source like the Internet would not hurt as much as being rejected in person, said a university statement.
"Yet, our studies show that people may experience similar psychological reactions to online exclusion as they do with face-to-face exclusion," added Smyth.
Smyth and Kelly Filipkowski, assistant professor of psychology at Misericordia University, US, conducted two studies examining the perceptions of and reactions to face-to-face and online chat room exclusion.
In the first study, the team asked more than 275 college students to anticipate how they would feel in a hypothetical exclusion scenario in which they were ignored during a conversation.
In the second study, Smyth and Filipkowski set up two scenarios in which 77 unsuspecting college students were ignored during a staged "get to know each other" conversation.
Half of the participants were excluded in person, while the other half were excluded in an online chat-room setting.
The team found that participants in both scenarios responded similarly to being excluded. "Contrary to our expectation, the students' responses to rejection were not primarily characterized by severe distress, but rather characterized by numbness and distancing or withdrawal," Smyth said.
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