What happens when we are excluded by individuals to whom we disclose more? Do we feel more pain? Previous research has generally studied the positive effects of self-disclosure and the detrimental effects of social exclusion separately. However, self-disclosure could lead to rejection. My study investigates how a person feels when he/she discloses something personal to others, but is then ignored and excluded in a later social interaction. It may seem to be a matter of common sense, yet people’s minds and behaviour are not always that simple. In psychology, we adopt a scientific approach to describe, explain and predict phenomena.
In this study, we use a relationship closeness induction task, which is usually used for attraction studies, to induce self-disclosure and study social exclusion. The exclusion manipulation uses a cyber ball paradigm, which is commonly used in the West but not yet in Asia. This novel experimental design can be used to study the effect of self-disclosure on social exclusion, which is also a rarely explored topic.
This experimental study can provide empirical evidence to describe and explain the effect of self-disclosure on social exclusion. It also promotes the use of the cyber ball paradigm in social exclusion studies with Chinese samples.
The results of this study could have important implications for interpersonal relationships, i.e. whether to self-disclose, which can be applied in a wide range of settings such as school, the workplace and family. It could help in developing appropriate social skills programmes for children and even business professionals. It could be an issue to be addressed in family counselling. It may even provide empirical support for the importance of inclusive education and the significance of creating an inclusive environment in Hong Kong.