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Social exclusion has a profound emotional impact on children. However, there is still limited and partly conflicting experimental evidence for the possible effect of social exclusion on children’s cognitive performance. In the present study, we tested the possibility that some children are more vulnerable than others to the negative effects of social exclusion on cognitive performance. We selected 4 potential candidates that could moderate the effects of social exclusion: relational self-esteem, peer ratings of popularity, rejection sensitivity and nonverbal intelligence. Individual differences in these 4 potential moderating factors were first assessed in a sample of 318 children (45.6 % females; mean age = 9.92 years). Then, in a subsequent experimental session, the participants were either socially included or excluded using a typical manipulation (i.e., the Cyberball paradigm). Following the manipulation, the children’s cognitive performance was assessed using a logical reasoning test. The results showed that the children with lower scores for relational self-esteem (the bottom 37.46 % of the sample), lower popularity (43.49 %) or weaker nonverbal intelligence (37.80 %) performed worse on the logical reasoning test following social exclusion. Moreover, children with combined low self-esteem, popularity and nonverbal intelligence were the most affected by social exclusion. This study identified factors that make some children more vulnerable to the negative effects of social exclusion. Overall, the present work underscores the value of considering basic cognitive and relational individual differences when developing interventions aimed at preventing the negative effects of social exclusion among children.
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- Who Are the Children Most Vulnerable to Social Exclusion? The Moderating Role of Self-Esteem, Popularity, and Nonverbal Intelligence on Cognitive Performance Following Social Exclusion
- Springer US