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Gaze Matters: The Influence of Eye Contact on the Experience of Social Exclusion: An ERP study
  • Yu-Fang Yang,
  • Xu Fang,
  • Michael Niedeggen
Yu-Fang Yang
Freie Universität Berlin

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Xu Fang
Freie Universität Berlin
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Michael Niedeggen
Freie Universität Berlin
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Abstract

Eye gaze is a crucial nonverbal cue that plays an important role in modulating social interaction. Despite its importance, research on the effect of gaze direction on the processing of social exclusion is restricted. The current study aimed to address this gap by investigating the effect of gaze direction using a Cyberball game that stimulates social exclusion. In addition to self-reports provided in a standardized questionnaire, the processing of exclusionary signals was monitored by recording ERPs. Participants were randomly assigned to two groups: one received direct gazes from their co-players, while the other received averted gazes toward their avatar. Our results showed that participants who received averted gazes reported stronger negative feelings of exclusion and had a smaller P300 effect in response to the transition from inclusion-to-exclusion, The P300 effect supports the idea that social exclusion is a violation of the subjective expectations of participation, and that direct eye gaze leads to an increased sensitivity to this process. The self-report, on the other hand, reflects the supportive role of eye gaze in modulating affective evaluation. These findings highlight the impact of gaze direction on the processing of social exclusion and underscore the importance of considering both cognitive and affective responses.