Research on social exclusion has mainly focused on situations in which exclusion is highly ambiguous and represents a violation of prevailing inclusion norms. However, it has rarely been accounted for that social exclusion situations are subjectively construed by the involved actors. In this dissertation, I suggest that subjective reactions to exclusion are cognitively mediated and do not necessarily depend on objective qualities of the exclusion experience. I further present a construal-based model of social exclusion that frames the construal of social exclusion as a function of norm consistency (whether social exclusion is consistent with or violating social norms) and the adopted perspective (targets, sources, and observers).
This dissertation contains four manuscripts, which emphasize the important role of subjective construal. Rudert, Hales, Greifeneder, and Williams (2017) showed that minimal acknowledgement affects the subjective experience of exclusion more strongly than the objective amount of exclusion. Rudert and Greifeneder (2016) demonstrated that targets’ negative reactions to exclusion are attenuated if exclusion is perceived as consistent with compared to violating the prevailing social norm. Rudert, Janke, and Greifeneder (2017) investigated subjective exclusion experiences as a reaction to an anti-immigration popular vote in Switzerland and demonstrated differences due to personal norms and attitudes. Finally, Rudert, Reutner, Greifeneder, and Walker (2017) showed that observers’ moral judgment of social exclusion experiences is affected by facial characteristics of the excluded target. All manuscripts are discussed in terms of the presented model together with additional lines of research that can be derived from a perspective of subjective construal.