In a series of studies, we investigated the role of economic structures (farming vs. herding) and source of ostracism (close other vs. stranger) in social exclusion experiences. We first confirmed that herders rely on strangers to a greater extent than do farmers for economic success (validation study). Next, we verified that farmers and herders understand the concept of ostracism, and its emotional consequences, in similar ways (Study 1). The studies that followed provided converging evidence that cultural group membership shapes sensitivity and responses to social exclusion. Using different methodologies, in Studies 2 and 3, we showed that, whereas the psychological consequences of ostracism by close others are similar for farmers and herders, herders are more strongly affected by ostracism from strangers. The last two studies demonstrated that herders recommend more affiliative responses to ostracism by strangers than do farmers both to those involved in the ostracism event (Study 4) and to naïve individuals (Study 5). Moreover, Study 5 revealed that the amount of time spent with strangers mediated cultural group differences in the extent to which affiliative and aggressive actions are recommended following social exclusion by strangers. Taken together, these results demonstrate that the economic systems on which communities are based shape how their members interact with others and that this, in turn, can shape individuals' responses to social exclusion.
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