Approach- and Withdrawal-Oriented Responses to Social Rejection: The Role of Asymmetrical Frontal Cortical Activity
Peterson, Carly Kathryn
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Ostracism arouses negative affect. However, little is known about variables that influence the intensity of these negative affective responses. Two studies seek to fill this void by incorporating work on approach- and withdrawal-related emotional states and their associated cortical activations. Study 1 found that following ostracism, anger related directly to relative left frontal cortical activation. Study 2 used unilateral hand contractions to manipulate frontal cortical activity prior to an ostracizing event. Righthand contractions, compared to left-hand contractions, caused greater relative left frontal cortical activation during the hand contractions as well as during ostracism. Also, righthand contractions caused more self-reported anger in response to being ostracized. Within-condition correlations revealed patterns of associations between ostracisminduced frontal asymmetry and emotive responses to ostracism consistent with Study 1. Taken together, these results suggest that asymmetrical frontal cortical activity affects angry responses to ostracism, with greater relative left frontal cortical activity being associated with increased anger.