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Belonging to a Majority Reduces the Immediate Need Threat from Ostracism in Individuals with a High Need to Belong

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European Journal of Social Psychology

Published online on


Ostracism—being ignored and excluded—threatens the basic human needs for belonging, self‐esteem, control, and meaningful existence. This work introduces belonging to a majority as a buffer against the immediate negative impact of ostracism on basic needs for individuals with a high need to belong, for whom social groups are especially relevant. Three studies show that for individuals high in the need to belong, need threat was attenuated by membership in a majority group, but not by membership in a minority group (Studies 1 and 3) or a group of unknown size (Study 2). By contrast, individuals low in the need to belong—who place less importance on group membership in general—did not benefit from belonging to a majority group. The general pattern replicated across different manipulations of group membership and social exclusion, two measures of need threat, and with participants from two different countries.