ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2020, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (9): 1575-1585.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2020.01575

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Can we really empathize? The influence of vicarious ostracism on individuals and its theoretical explanation

YANG Xiaoli(), ZOU Yan   

  1. Key Laboratory of Behavioral and Mental Health of Gansu Province, School of Psychology, Northwest Normal University, Lanzhou 730070, China
  • Received:2020-01-06 Online:2020-09-15 Published:2020-07-24
  • Contact: YANG Xiaoli


Vicarious ostracism refers to a form of ostracism that observes other's experience of ostracism and also feels the experience of ostracism. From the perspective of behavioral study and neuroimaging, it is found that experiencing vicarious ostracism can trigger individual's needs, emotion, behavior and brain network responses, etc. Ostracism detection system theory, multimotive model theory, moral attribution theory, social identity theory and empathy theory provide a theoretical basis for why individuals were experiencing vicarious ostracism make these responses. Future research can also continue to explore the complexity of ostracism situations, individual's empathy and theoretical explanation in order to expand the scope of vicarious ostracism.

Key words: vicarious ostracism, basic needs, emotion, behavior, fMRI

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