Ostracism is a fascinating concept in the field of social psychology. It refers to the exclusion or rejection of individuals from a group or society. This article will delve into the intricacies of ostracism, its effects on individuals, and how it relates to various psychological theories.

What is Ostracism?
Ostracism can be defined as the act of intentionally ignoring, excluding, or rejecting someone from a social group. It can occur in various settings, such as schools, workplaces, friendships, and even online platforms. Oftentimes, ostracism is used as a form of punishment or control within a group dynamic.

The Impact of Ostracism
When an individual experiences ostracism, it can have profound psychological and emotional effects. Research has shown that being excluded from social interactions can lead to feelings of loneliness, sadness, and lowered self-esteem. Additionally, repeated experiences of ostracism can result in chronic stress and even contribute to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Theories Explaining Ostracism

Social Rejection Theory:
According to the Social Rejection Theory proposed by sociologist Emile Durkheim, ostracism occurs when an individual fails to conform to societal norms or expectations. This theory suggests that society uses exclusion as a means to maintain social order and reinforce accepted behaviors.

Need Threat Theory:
Psychologists Mark Leary and Roy Baumeister developed the Need Threat Theory which explains how ostracism threatens an individual’s fundamental human needs – belongingness, self-esteem, control, and meaningful existence. When these needs are not met due to exclusion, individuals experience distress.

Ostracism and Evolutionary Psychology

Evolutionary psychologists argue that ostracism has roots in our ancestral past. They propose that being part of a social group was crucial for survival, and exclusion could lead to physical harm or even death. Therefore, humans have developed a strong aversion to ostracism as a way to maintain group membership and ensure protection.

Forms of Ostracism
Ostracism can manifest in various forms, including:

Ostracism and Bullying

It is important to note that ostracism is closely related to bullying. In many cases, bullying involves repeated acts of exclusion and rejection aimed at causing harm to the victim. Ostracism can be a powerful tool used by bullies to assert dominance and control over their Targets.


In conclusion, ostracism is a complex phenomenon that affects individuals on multiple levels. It has far-reaching consequences for mental health and well-being. Understanding the psychological mechanisms behind ostracism is crucial in order to prevent its negative effects and foster inclusive environments where everyone feels valued and accepted.