Being a victim of social exclusion can have highly negative effects, especially if the ostracism lasts for a long time. Thankfully most tweens find ways to become reintegrated with peers shortly after experiencing social exclusion. Here are the strategies commonly used to encourage social inclusion after exclusion.
Socially Excluded People Act More Agreeable
After being ostracized, kids tend to become highly agreeable around their peers. They will readily obey orders, go along with others' plans and generally act in a cooperative manner. Since they are perceived as being easygoing, they tend to be increasingly accepted by their peer group. For the most part, acting more cooperative is a positive social skill and a healthy outcome that can arise from being ostracized. Sometimes, though, such flexible behavior can make ostracized tweens more likely to engage in risky acts. For instance, the socially excluded tween might begin to smoke or use drugs in a desperate attempt to be socially included. The ostracized child must therefore find a balance between being reasonably agreeable while still following their own moral and ethical code.
Ostracism Increases Conformity
Socially excluded tweens not only act more agreeable in order to fit in with their peers, they also tend to conform more. The ostracized tween may start to dress, talk and/or hold beliefs that match the dominant peer group, even if these actions do not match his innermost self. Researchers have also found that excluded people will actively mimic those around them. Their speech patterns, gestures and even accents tend to change depending upon who they're spending time with. Some of this mimicry is done on purpose and consciously, but it seems that a good deal of it happens automatically, without the person being aware that they are making the change.
Ostracized People Express Greater Attraction to Peers
Tweens who have been ostracized also tend to like other people more than they did before they were socially excluded. They find their peers to be more enjoyable, interesting and likeable than they ever did before. Researchers have found that ostracized people find even peers with odd behaviors likable and attractive. In other words, excluded individuals may be more accepting of peers who are judged unlikeable. This may partly arise from empathy since eccentric people are more susceptible to being socially excluded themselves. It may also come from the desire to have as many friends as possible just in case social exclusion were to occur again.
Socially Excluded Individuals Pay Close Attention to Social Cues
Finally, ostracized kids attempt to socially integration by becoming "social experts." They study their peers' social behavior, including their facial expressions, gestures, style of dressing, manner of speaking and ways of exchanging personal information. They tend to remember such social information long after it has occurred, and to remember it much better than peers who have not been ostracized. Socially excluded tweens are also highly vigilant for social or emotional inconsistencies. For example, they may immediately notice times when a particular peer is acting less outgoing than usual. Ostracized kids are probably hyperaware of social information because they realize the possible consequences of not paying attention, and responding accordingly, to changes in one's social group.
Williams, Kipling D., and Nida, Steve A. Ostracism: Consequences and Coping. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 2011. 20(2): 71-75.