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Ostracism, resources, and the perception of human motion

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European Journal of Social Psychology

Published online on


Is perception of human motion affected by psychosocial resources? According to the Resources and Perception Model, perception is jointly affected by subjective threat and psychosocial resources that buffer threat. Two experiments tested whether social threat (i.e., ostracism) and psychosocial resources affect perception of human motion. Observers attempted to identify human movement in ambiguous point‐light displays after being ostracized or not ostracized. Additionally, trait resources (self‐esteem plus social support) were measured (Studies 1 and 2), and self‐affirmation was manipulated (Study 2). Study 1 showed that ostracism reduced sensitivity for detecting human motion but not among people with ample trait resources. Study 2 replicated this ostracism‐by‐trait resources interaction. It also showed that self‐affirmation improved human motion perception for all included participants but only benefited ostracized participants with ample trait resources. These studies show that a basic visual skill—detecting human motion—is jointly affected by social threats and psychosocial resources.