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Social rejection is one of the more “painful” experiences humans can endure, affecting long term physical and emotional health (Eisenberger, 2012). Perceiving social rejection can create psychological and social distress (Leary, 2004). A number of studies have sought to understand for whom and under what conditions social rejection would be more, or less impactful. Building on this research, the present study targeted mindfulness—a psychological state that entails receptive attention to one’s present experience (Brown & Ryan, 2003)—as a potential buffer to rejection-induced social distress. Consistent with this, mindfulness is associated with reduced psychological, neuroendocrine and electrophysiological indices of social distress in evocative social situations (see Brown, Ryan, Creswell, & Niemiec, 2008 for review). Study one was a correlational study examining the effects of trait mindfulness on social distress induced by Cyberball (V4.0 Williams, Chung & Choi, 2000). Cyberball is a software-based ball-tossing game, wherein ostensible players are programmed to exclude the participant. Measures of social distress were taken immediately after the exclusion, and two measures of trait mindfulness were associated with decreased social distress following exclusion (Ps < .01). In study two we manipulated mindfulness by randomly assigning participants to listen to a brief mindfulness audio induction (MI) or a control induction (CI). As in study 1, participants were excluded via Cyberball and then filled out self-report measures of social distress. MI participants experienced less social distress, relative to controls, t = 4.632, p < .001. This study speaks to the potential for mindfulness to buffer distress during social rejection.

Publication Date


Subject Major(s)

Psychology, Neuroscience

Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Daniel R. Berry

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Jordan T. Quaglia


Virginia Commonwealth University. Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program

Is Part Of

VCU Undergraduate Research Posters


© The Author(s)

Mindfulness Buffers Exclusion-Related Social Distress