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Pfundmair, Michaela; Danboeck, Sarah K. and Agthe, Maria (2019): Out of the dark, into the light: The impact of social exclusion on judgments of darkness and brightness. In: Acta Psychologica, Vol. 199, UNSP 102901

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Based on theories of grounded cognition, we assumed that the experience of social exclusion is grounded in a concept of darkness. Specifically, we hypothesized that social exclusion causes perceptual judgments of darkness and a preference for brightness as a compensatory response. To investigate these hypotheses, we conducted four studies using different manipulations and measurements. In Studies 1a and 1b, excluded participants judged a picturized room as darker and drew more attention to its brightest part than included participants. In Study 2, excluded participants judged a surface as darker and decided for brighter clothing than included participants. In Study 3, excluded participants judged their lab room as darker and expressed a higher preference for brightness than included participants. Providing consistent support for our hypotheses, these findings confirm the idea that the experience of social exclusion is grounded in multiple ways that share a common representational system.

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