Does Walking Mitigate Affective and Cognitive Responses to Social Exclusion?

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year subscription

USD  $84.00

1 year subscription

USD  $111.00

Student 2 year subscription

USD  $159.00

2 year subscription

USD  $208.00

Social exclusion can produce harmful affective and cognitive responses that undermine healthy functioning. Physical activity is known to have acute affective and cognitive effects that are adaptive and therefore may mitigate these responses. The purpose of this study was to assess walking as a strategy to reduce the effects of social exclusion on affect and working memory performance. Healthy female college students (N = 96, Mage = 19.2 ± 0.8 years) were randomly assigned to one of four experimental conditions: (a) sedentary plus neutral feedback, (b) sedentary plus exclusion feedback, (c) walking plus neutral feedback, or (d) walking plus exclusion feedback. Pre- and postactivity and pre- and postfeedback measures of affect and working memory performance were recorded. Excluded participants had a significant negative shift in affect following feedback, p < .05. Those who were sedentary prior to exclusion had lower affect scores following exclusion than the walking plus exclusion and neutral feedback conditions, p < .05. There were no direct effects of walking or social exclusion on working memory. However, perceptions of being ignored predicted smaller improvements in working memory performance for participants who were sedentary prior to exclusion, p < .05. The findings suggest that walking prior to social exclusion may mitigate the affective response to social exclusion as well as social perceptions that can undermine working memory. More broadly, this work supports continued examination of physical activity as a potential strategy for helping individuals cope with negative social experiences.

The authors are with the Department of Kinesiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

Address author correspondence to Anthony G. Delli Paoli at dellipao@msu.edu.
  • Armstrong, T., McClenahan, L., Kittle, J., & Olatunji, B.O. (2014). Don’t look now! Oculomotor avoidance as a conditioned disgust response. Emotion, 14, 95–104. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Baddeley, A. (1992). Working memory. Science, 255, 556–559. PubMed doi:

  • Baddeley, A. (2013). Working memory and emotion: Ruminations on a theory of depression. Review of General Psychology, 17, 20–27. doi:

  • Baddeley, A., & Hitch, G. (1974). Working memory. In G.H. Bower (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation: Advances in research and theory (Vol. 8, pp. 47–89). New York, NY: Academic Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Barrett, L.F., Mesquita, B., Ochsner, K.N., & Gross, J.J. (2007). The experience of emotion. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 373–403. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Baumeister, R.F., Brewer, L.E., Tice, D.M., & Twenge, J.M. (2007). Thwarting the need to belong: Understanding the interpersonal and inner effects of social exclusion. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 1, 506–520. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Baumeister, R.F., DeWall, N.C., Ciarocco, N.J., & Twenge, J.M. (2005). Social exclusion impairs self-regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 589–604. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Baumeister, R.F., & Leary, M.R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychology Bulletin, 117, 497–529. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Baumeister, R.F., Twenge, J.M., & Nuss, C.K. (2002). Effects of social exclusion on cognitive processes: Anticipated aloneness reduces intelligent thought. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 817–827. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Beekman, J.B., Stock, M.L., & Marcus, T. (2016). Need to belong, not rejection sensitivity, moderates cortisol response, self-reported stress, and negative affect following social exclusion. The Journal of Social Psychology, 156, 131–138. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Beilock, S.L., Rydell, R.J., & McConnell, A.R. (2007). Stereotype threat and working memory: Mechanisms, alleviation, and spillover. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 136, 256–276. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Benjamini, Y., & Hochberg, Y. (1995). Controlling the false discovery rate: A practical and powerful approach to multiple testing. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series B, 57, 289–300. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Berenson, K.R., Gyurak, A., Ayduk, Ö., Downey, G., Garner, M.J., Mogg, K.,… Pine, D.S. (2009). Rejection sensitivity and disruption of attention by social threat cues. Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 1064–1072. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Blackhart, G.C., Nelson, B.C., Knowles, M.L., & Baumeister, R.F. (2009). Rejection elicits emotional reactions but neither causes immediate distress nor lowers self-esteem: A meta-analytic review of 192 studies on social exclusion. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 13, 269–309. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Buelow, M.T., Okdie, B.M., Brunell, A.B., & Trost, Z. (2015). Stuck in a moment and you cannot get out of it: The lingering effects of ostracism on cognition and satisfaction of basic needs. Personality and Individual Differences, 76, 39–43. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cacioppo, J.T., & Hawkley, L.C. (2009). Perceived social isolation and cognition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13, 447–454. PubMed doi:

  • Carlson, S., Martinkauppi, S., Rämä, P., Salli, E., Korvenoja, A., & Aronen, H.J. (1998). Distribution of cortical activation during visuospatial n-back tasks as revealed by functional magnetic resonance imaging. Cerebral Cortex, 8, 743–752. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chang, Y.K., Labban, J.D., Gapin, J.I., & Etnier, J.L. (2012). The effects of acute exercise on cognitive performance. Brain Research, 1453, 87–101. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cohen, J. (1973). Eta-squared and partial eta-squared in fixed factor ANOVA designs. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 33, 107–112. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cooter, S., Holt, C., & Lachmann, M. (Producers). (2011). Wonders of the universe presented by Brian Cox [DVD]. New York, NY: BBC America.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DeWall, C.N., Masten, C.L., Powell, C., Combs, D., Schurtz, D.R., & Eisenberger, N.I. (2012). Do neural responses to rejection depend on attachment style? An fMRI study. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 7, 184–192. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DeWall, C.N., Twenge, J.M., Koole, S.L., Baumeister, R.F., Marquez, A., & Reid, M.W. (2011). Automatic emotion regulation after social exclusion: Tuning to positivity. Emotion, 11, 623–636. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Diamond, A. (2013). Executive functions. Annual Review of Psychology, 64, 135–168. PubMed doi:

  • Drollette, E.S., Scudder, M.R., Raine, L.B., Moore, R.D., Pontifex, M.B., Erickson, K.I., & Hillman, C.H. (2016). The sexual dimorphic association of cardiorespiratory fitness to working memory in children. Developmental Science, 19, 90–108. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ekkekakis, P., Hall, E.E., VanLanduyt, L.M., & Petruzzelo, S.J. (2000). Walking in (affective) circles: Can short walks enhance affect? Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 23, 245–275. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ekkekakis, P., & Petruzzello, S.J. (1999). Acute aerobic exercise and affect: Current status, problems, and prospects regarding dose-response. Sports Medicine, 28, 337–374. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Glickman, M.E., Rao, S.R., & Schultz, M.R. (2014). False discovery rate control is a recommended alternative to Bonferroni-type adjustments in health studies. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 67, 850–857. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gray, J.R. (2004). Integration of emotion and cognitive control. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13, 46–48. doi:

  • Gross, J.J. (2013). Emotion regulation: Taking stock and moving forward. Emotion, 13(3), 359–365. PubMed doi:

  • Gross, J.J., & John, O.P. (2003). Individual differences in two emotion regulation processes: Implications for affect, relationships, and well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 348–362. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hawkley, L.C., Thisted, R.A., & Cacioppo, J.T. (2009). Loneliness predicts reduced physical activity: Cross-sectional & longitudinal analyses. Health Psychology, 28, 354–363. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hogan, C.L., Mata, J., & Carstensen, L.L. (2013). Exercise holds immediate benefits for affect and cognition in younger and older adults. Psychology and Aging, 28, 587–594. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Holdwick, D.J., & Wingenfeld, S.A. (1999). The subjective experience of PASAT testing: Does the PASAT induce negative mood? Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 14, 273–284. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kirchner, W.K. (1958). Age differences in short-term retention of rapidly changing information. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 55, 352–358. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lambourne, K., & Tomporowski, P. (2010). The effect of exercise-induced arousal on cognitive task performance: A meta-regression analysis. Brain Research, 1341, 12–24. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lishner, D.A., Cooter, A.B., & Zald, D.H. (2008). Addressing measurement limitations in affective rating scales: Development of an empirical valence scale. Cognition and Emotion, 22, 180–192. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MacDonald, G., & Leary, M.R. (2005). Why does social exclusion hurt? The relationship between social and physical pain. Psychological Bulletin, 131, 202–223. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Maner, J.K., DeWall, C.N., Baumeister, R.F., & Schaller, M. (2007). Does social exclusion motivate interpersonal reconnection? Resolving the “porcupine problem.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 42–55. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Martins, A.Q., Kavussanu, M., Willoughby, A., & Ring, C. (2013). Moderate intensity exercise facilitates working memory. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 14, 323–328. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nezlek, J.B., Kowalski, R.M., Leary, M.R., Blevins, T., & Holgate, S. (1997). Personality moderators of reactions to interpersonal rejection: Depression and trait self-esteem. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 1235–1244. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ochsner, K.N., & Gross, J.J. (2005). The cognitive control of emotion. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9, 242–249. PubMed doi:

  • Panksepp, J. (1998). The periconscious substrates of consciousness: Affective states and the evolutionary origins of the self. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 5, 566–582.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Panksepp, J. (2005). On the embodied neural nature of core emotional affects. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 12, 158–184.

  • Pontifex, M.B., Hillman, C.H., Fernhall, B., Thompson, K.M., & Valentini, T.A. (2009). The effect of acute aerobic and resistance exercise on working memory. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 41, 927–934. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pontifex, M.B., Parks, A.C., Henning, D.A., & Kamijo, K. (2015). Single bouts of exercise selectively sustain attentional processes. Psychophysiology, 52, 618–625. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Reed, J., & Ones, D. (2006). The effect of acute aerobic exercise on positive activated affect: A meta-analysis. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 7, 477–514. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Roig, M., Nordbrandt, S., Geertsen, S.S., & Nielsen, J.B. (2013). The effects of cardiovascular exercise on human memory: A review with meta-analysis. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 37, 1645–1666. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Russell, J.A. (2003). Core affect and the psychological construction of emotion. Psychological Review, 110, 145–172. PubMed doi:

  • Russell, J.A., & Barrett, L.F. (1999). Core affect, prototypical emotional episodes, and other things called emotion: Dissecting the elephant. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 805–819. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tabachnick, B.G., & Fidell, L.S. (Eds.). (2013). Using multivariate statistics (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

  • Twenge, J.M., Baumeister, R.F., DeWall, N.C., Ciarocco, N.J., & Bartels, J.M. (2007). Social exclusion decreases prosocial behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 56–66. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Twenge, J.M., Baumeister, R.F., Tice, D.M., & Stucke, T.S. (2001). If you can’t join them, beat them: Effects of social exclusion on aggressive behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 1058–1069. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Twenge, J.M., Catanese, K.R., & Baumeister, R.F. (2002). Social exclusion causes self-defeating behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 606–615. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Twenge, J.M., Catanese, K.R., & Baumeister, R.F. (2003). Social exclusion and the deconstructed state: Time perception, meaninglessness, lethargy, lack of emotion, and self-awareness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 409–423. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Verde, M.F., MacMillan, N.A., & Rotello, C.N. (2006). Measures of sensitivity based on a single hit rate and false alarm rate: The accuracy, precision, and robustness of d′, Az, and A′. Perception & Psychophysics, 68, 643–654. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Weng, T.B., Pierce, G.L., Darling, W.G., & Voss, M.W. (2015). Differential effects of acute exercise on distinct aspects of executive function. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 47, 1460–1469. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Williams, K.D. (2009). Ostracism: A temporal need-threat model. In M.P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (pp. 275–314). Boston, MA: Academic Press. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zadro, L., Williams, K.D., & Richardson, R. (2004). How low can you go? Ostracism by a computer is sufficient to lower self-reported levels of belonging, control, self-esteem, and meaningful existence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40, 560–567. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 61 61 10
Full Text Views 6 6 0
PDF Downloads 3 3 0