Emotional, Cognitive and Self-Enhancement Processes in Aggressive Behavior After Interpersonal Rejection and Exclusion

Joanna Rajchert


The relationship between exclusion or rejection and aggression is already well documented, but there is still a debate about the mechanisms that underlie this effect. In two studies we focused on the propensity to react aggressively (readiness for aggression) on the bases of emotional, cognitive or self-enhancement (personality-immanent) processes. In both studies we first measured readiness for aggression and then ego-depleted participants. Next, in Study 1 we excluded participants (n = 96) using an online ball throwing game and measured displaced aggressive behavior - intensity and duration of an unpleasant noise administrated to a stranger. In Study 2 participants (n = 140) were rejected by a peer on the basis of an interview that they gave and then could retaliate by reducing peer's chance for getting a job. The results show that exclusion effect on displaced aggression was moderated by cognitive readiness for aggression, while rejection effect on retaliatory aggression was shaped by emotional and personality-immanent readiness for aggression as well as ego-depletion. The results were discussed in light of the strength model of self-control by Baumeister, Vohs, and Tice (2007).


exclusion; rejection; readiness for aggression; aggressive behavior

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