Touching a Teddy Bear Mitigates Negative Effects of Social Exclusion to Increase Prosocial Behavior
There is little empirical research to date that looks at how the deleterious effects of social exclusion can be mitigated. We examined how touching an inanimate object—a teddy bear—might impact the effect of social exclusion on prosocial behavior. Across two studies, we found that socially excluded individuals who touched a teddy bear acted more prosocially as compared to socially excluded individuals who just viewed the teddy bear from a distance. This effect was only observed for socially excluded participants and not for socially included (or control) participants. Overall, the findings suggest that touching a teddy bear mitigates the negative effects of social exclusion to increase prosocial behavior. In Study 2, positive emotion was found to mediate the relationship between touch and prosocial behavior. These results suggest a possible means to attenuate the unpleasant effects of social exclusion.