Autumn Chall

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School


First Advisor

Ellen Koch


Being socially excluded has negative effects on a person’s well-being, both mentally and physically. Few studies have succeeded in finding a way to lessen these negative effects. Previous research in other domains have found that positive role models can help people to feel better about themselves and their situations. This study investigates the idea that role models could buffer the negative effects of social exclusion. Fifty-seven participants were either socially excluded, or, in the case of the control condition, included. Then participants were exposed to no essay, a neutral essay, or a role-model essay. Results showed that the role model essay was effective in buffering the negative impacts of social exclusion on the social needs of meaningfulness and self-esteem but not for the needs of control and belongingness. These findings suggest that the role model’s experience is essential to how it improves one’s sense of well-being. Directions for future research involve providing role models that touch on each of the social needs to see if a role model with high control, for example, will lead the reader to feel a higher sense of control. Additionally, these findings lend additional support to the normalization process for how people might cope with life trauma or threats.

Included in

Psychology Commons