Newswise — A snub on Facebook feels just as painful as one in real life, suggests new research from Misericordia University and Penn State.
“Ostracism is experienced similarly whether it occurs online or in person,” says Kelly Filipkowski, assistant professor of psychology at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pa. “People may perceive remote communication – chat room, email or texts – to be as meaningful and relevant as face-to-face interactions.”
The study asked 276 college students to imagine how they’d feel in a hypothetical scenario in which they were ignored in a conversation. Most expected to feel worse being left out of an in-person conversation than in a chat room.
The researchers then conducted a second study on 77 unsuspecting college students who were ignored in a staged get-to-know-you conversation. Half were excluded in person, half online. Both conditions elicited similar reactions.
The results, published in Computers in Human Behavior, suggest that our culture may not differentiate between in-person and online experiences as much as we might think.
That may seem troubling, but there’s a bright side, says Joshua Smyth, professor of biobehavioral health and medicine at Penn State. "Meaningful online interactions may support the utilization of remote interventions that can enhance physical and psychological well-being, in turn providing increased access to opportunities for people who are in need."