Psychology 4791G 001 FW23

Special Topics in Social Psychology: Acceptance & Rejection

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.



LONDON               CANADA 

Department of Psychology 

2023 - 2024 

Psychology 4791G Section 001 

Special Topics in Social Psychology: Acceptance & Rejection 




This seminar course is designed to give students a comprehensive background on research surrounding interpersonal rejection and its social, emotional, cognitive and physiological components. We will review and discuss topics such as ostracism, social pain, coping, biopsychology, group dynamics, and romantic rejection, and how these inform individual and relational outcomes.   


Antirequisite: Not Applicable. 


Antirequisites are courses that overlap sufficiently in content that only one can be taken for credit. If you take a course that is an antirequisite to a course previously taken, you will lose credit for the earlier course, regardless of the grade achieved in the most recent course. 


Prerequisite: Psychology 2820E, or both of Psychology 2800E and Psychology 2810, plus registration in third or fourth year Honours Specialization in Psychology or Honours Specialization in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. Other Psychology students and Psychology Special Students who receive 75% in the prerequisite courses may enrol in this course. 


Extra Information: 3 seminar hours 

Course Weight: 0.5 


Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enrol in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites. 





Instructor: Dr. James Kim (Pronouns: He/Him/His)  

Office and Phone Number: SSC 6322  

Office Hours: Tuesdays, 10 – 11 am, or by appointment  



Time and Location of Classes: Thursdays, 12:30 – 3:30 pm (SSC-3026) 

Delivery Method: In-Person 


Students who are in emotional/mental distress should refer to Health and Wellness @Western for a complete list of options about how to obtain help. 


Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also contact Accessible Education at  or 519-661-2147. 




No textbook will be used for this class. Required readings will be sourced from peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and made available through OWL. Weekly assigned readings are to be completed before each class. 




This course will cover seminal and contemporary work that inform the nature of acceptance and rejection in social relationships, and its related psychological phenomena. We will cover these aspects across multiple fields and conceptualizations, consolidating literatures to gain a deep understanding of the influences of interpersonal rejection on behavior and emotion. Students will learn key concepts, major theories, and diverse methods relevant to the study of interpersonal rejection. As a seminar course, learning outcomes will be structured around student-driven discussions, thought papers on weekly readings, in-class activities, and an original research paper.  


Learning Outcome  

Learning Activity  


Depth and Breadth of Knowledge.  

  • Evaluate and think critically about key concepts and theory outlined in the course material on acceptance and rejection dynamics in social relationships. 

Weekly reading 

Topic Presentation 

Class Discussion 

Research Proposal 

Thought paper 

Topic Presentation 

Class participation 

In-class Examination 

Research proposal 

Knowledge of Methodologies.  

  • Evaluate and think critically about the diverse methodological approaches used to study various components of interpersonal rejection. 

Weekly reading 

Topic Presentation 

Class Discussion 



Thought paper 

Topic Presentation 

Class participation 

In-class Examination 



Application of Knowledge.  

  • Discuss and present on real-world implications of the course material 

Weekly reading 

Topic Presentation 

Class Discussion 



Thought paper 

Topic Presentation 

Class participation 



Communication Skills.  

  • Discuss and communicate concepts, findings, ideas, and opinions from the course material both orally and in writing. 


Topic Presentation 

Class Discussion 

Research Proposal 

Topic Presentation 

Class participation 

Research proposal 

Awareness of Limits of Knowledge. 

  • Evaluate the limitations surrounding the generalizability of the findings to different populations. 
  • Understand the research contexts in which the findings are presented, and gaps between theory and practice. 

Weekly reading 

Topic Presentation 

Class Discussion 

Research Proposal 



Thought paper 

Topic Presentation 

Class participation 

Research proposal 

In-class Examination 



Autonomy and Professional Capacity. 

  • Effectively present on selected course material, and facilitate class discussion. 
  • Engage with the material through discussion with peers in a respectful manner, demonstrating critical thinking skills and consideration of alternate viewpoints. 
  • Develop an original research proposal that integrates and extends the course material 

Topic Presentation 

Class Discussion 

Research Proposal 


Topic Presentation 

Class participation 

Research proposal 




The evaluation and testing formats for this course were created to assess the learning objectives as listed in section 4.0 and are considered necessary for meeting these learning objectives  


Course evaluation will be based on the following components (rubrics to be provided on course website): 


Class Facilitation (20%) 


Each week a small group of students will lead the class discussion as facilitators. Facilitators will summarize the readings, pose questions, and guide discussion of that week’s topic, integrating any supplementary materials or tools they think will help situate the topic for the class. Presentations should demonstrate knowledge of the material, and an ability to think deeply (as well as get others to think deeply) about the content. This will be worth 20% of the final grade. 


Thought Papers (20%) 


Over the course, you will turn in a total of five thought papers (2 pages maximum each, double-spaced, ~500 words) based on the weekly readings. Two of these thought papers are to be submitted before the Reading Week break and three after the break. Thought papers are not to be turned in for the week a student is facilitating. Papers will be evaluated based on demonstration of critical thinking skills, depth of engagement with the material, and the quality and clarity of writing. Thought papers will worth 20% of the final grade (4 thought papers x 5% each). Thought papers are to be submitted through the course website on OWL. 


Class Participation (15%) 


As a discussion-based seminar course, class participation is very important. Participation will account for 15% of the final grade (5% for attendance, 10% for in-class participation). Expectations are for students to engage thoughtfully, respectfully in each week’s discussion and during in-class activities, being insightful, integrative, and encouraging of classmates. Evaluation will be based on weekly attendance, active participation through initiating contributions to class discussion, quality of comments, and demonstration of listening skills.  


In-class Examination (15%) 


A cumulative in-class examination will take place on February 27th. The examination will be 1 hour in length and will consist of multiple choice and short answer questions focusing on key concepts and information from the readings to date.  


Research Proposal (30%) 


The final paper will be a research proposal and should be: a maximum of 10 pages (excluding title page, references, and any tables/figures if included); approximately 3000 words; formatted with 12-point Times New Roman; 1 inch margins on all sides; written in accordance with APA 7th guidelines. Papers will be worth 30% of the final grade. Your proposal can but does not have to be centered on your class facilitation week. 





Thought papers – A grade of 0 will be given for each of the five required thought papers that are not submitted on time. Thought papers may be submitted after the weekly deadline only with appropriate approved documentation. 


Class presentation and In-class Examination – In the event of a non-excused absence, grades for class facilitation or the in-class examation will receive a grade of 0, unless appropriate approved documentation is provided.  


Research proposal - A 10% per day penalty will be applied for late submission of research proposal papers.  


PLEASE NOTE: Because this is an essay course, as per Senate Regulations, you must pass the essay component to pass the course. That is, the average mark for your written assignments must be at least 50%. 


This course is exempt from the Senate requirement that students receive assessment of their work accounting for at least 15% of their final grade at least three full days before the date of the deadline for withdrawal from a course without academic penalty. 



The expectation for course grades within the Psychology Department is that they will be distributed around the following averages: 


70% 1000-level to 2099-level courses 

72% 2100-2999-level courses 

75% 3000-level courses 

80% 4000-level courses 


The Psychology Department follows Western’s grading guidelines, which are as follows (see: 


A+ 90-100 One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level 

A 80-89 Superior work that is clearly above average 

B 70-79 Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory 

C 60-69 Competent work, meeting requirements 

D 50-59 Fair work, minimally acceptable 

F below 50 Fail 


Note that in the event that course grades are significantly higher or lower than these averages, instructors may be required to make adjustments to course grades. Such adjustment might include the normalization of one or more course components and/or the re-weighting of various course components. 


Policy on Grade Rounding: Please note that although course grades within the Psychology Department are rounded to the nearest whole number, no further grade rounding will be done. No additional assignments will be offered to enhance a final grade; nor will requests to change a grade because it is needed for a future program be considered. To maximize your grade, do your best on each and every assessment within the course. 




Thought Papers 

Due the Wednesday before class on OWL by 11:59pm 



Research Proposal Paper 

Due Monday April 8 by 11:59pm 











Jan. 11, 2024 

Class Orientation & Overview 

No readings 


Jan. 18, 2024 

Theoretical Perspectives I 

Baumeister, R. F. & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation.  Psychological Bulletin, 117 





Jan. 25, 2024 

Theoretical Perspectives II 

Williams, K. D. (2009). Ostracism: A temporal needthreat model. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 41, 275-314. 


Smart Richman, L., & Leary, M. R. (2009). Reactions to discrimination, stigmatization, ostracism, and other forms of interpersonal rejection: a multimotive model. Psychological Review, 116(2), 365-383. 


Feb. 1, 2024 

Biopsychology & Social Pain 

Kross, E., Berman, M. G., Mischel, W., Smith, E., & Wager, T. D. (2011). Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108, 6270-6275. 


Moor, B. G., Crone, E. A. & van der Molen, M. W. (2010). The heartbrake of social rejection: Heart rate deceleration in response to unexpected peer rejection. Psychological Science, 21, 1326-1333. 


DeWall, C. N., MacDonald, G., Webster, G. D., Masten, C. L., Baumeister, R. F., Powell, C., ... & Eisenberger, N. I. (2010). Acetaminophen reduces social pain: Behavioral and neural evidence. Psychological Science, 21(7), 931-937. 



Feb. 8, 2024 

Responses to Rejection I 



Kelly, K. M. (2001). Individual differences in reactions to rejection. In M. R. Leary (Ed.), Interpersonal rejection (pp. 291 – 315). New York: Oxford University Press. 


Wirth, J. H., Lynam, D. R., & Williams, K. D. (2010). When social pain is not automatic: Personality disorder traits buffer ostracism’s immediate negative impact. Journal of Research in Personality, 44(3), 397-401. 


Maxwell, J. A., Spielmann, S. S., Joel, S., & MacDonald, G. (2013). Attachment theory as a framework for understanding responses to social exclusion. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 7(7), 444-456. 



Leary, M. R. (2015). Emotional responses to interpersonal rejection. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 17(4), 435-441. 



Feb. 15, 2024 

Responses to Rejection II 


Ayduk, Ö., Gyurak, A., & Luerssen, A. (2008). Individual differences in the rejection–aggression link in the hot sauce paradigm: The case of rejection sensitivity. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44(3), 775-782. 


DeWall, C. N., Maner, J. K., & Rouby, D. A. (2009).  Social exclusion and early stage interpersonal perception: Selective attention to signs of acceptance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 729-741. 


Riva, P., Romero Lauro, L. J., DeWall, C. N., Chester, D. S., & Bushman, B. J. (2015). Reducing aggressive responses to social exclusion using transcranial direct current stimulation. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 10(3), 352-356. 





Feb. 22, 2024 



Feb. 27, 2024 

(In-class Examination) 

Romantic Relationships I 




Baumeister, R. F., Wotman, S. R., & Stillwell, A. M. (1993). Unrequited love: On heartbreak, anger, guilt, scriptlessness, and humiliation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64(3), 377-394. 


Joel, S., Plaks, J. E., & MacDonald, G. (2019). Nothing ventured, nothing gained: People anticipate more regret from missed romantic opportunities than from rejection. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36(1), 305-336. 



Mar. 5, 2024 

Romantic Relationships II 



Joel, S., & MacDonald, G. (2021). We’re not that choosy: Emerging evidence of a progression bias in romantic relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 25(4), 317-343. 


Pronk, T. M., & Denissen, J. J. (2020). A rejection mind-set: Choice overload in online dating. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 11(3), 388-396. 


Murray, S. L. (2023). Regulating Relationship Risk: Partner Responsiveness as a Safety Signal. Current Opinion in Psychology. 


Mar. 12, 2024 




Stinson, D. A., Logel, C., Shepherd, S., & Zanna, M. P. (2011). Rewriting the self-fulfilling prophecy of social rejection: Self-affirmation improves relational security and social behavior up to 2 months later. Psychological Science, 22(9), 1145-1149. 


Aydin, N., Fischer, P., & Frey, D. (2010). Turning to God in the face of ostracism: Effects of social exclusion on religiousness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36(6), 742-753. 


Jones, E. E., Wirth, J. H., Ramsey, A. T., & Wynsma, R. L. (2019). Who is less likely to ostracize? Higher trait mindfulness predicts more inclusionary behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 45(1), 105-119. 



Mar. 19, 2024 

Sexual Prejudice 



Hoskin, R. A., Blair, K. L., & Holmberg, D. (2023). Femmephobia is a uniquely powerful predictor of anti-gay behavior. Archives of sexual behavior, 1-14. 


Blair, K. L., & Hoskin, R. A. (2019). Transgender exclusion from the world of dating: Patterns of acceptance and rejection of hypothetical trans dating partners as a function of sexual and gender identity. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36(7), 2074-2095. 


Sparks, B., Zidenberg, A. M., & Olver, M. E. (2022). Involuntary celibacy: a review of incel ideology and experiences with dating, rejection, and associated mental health and emotional sequelae. Current psychiatry reports, 24(12), 731-740. 



Mar. 26, 2024 

Group Dynamics 



Pfundmair, M., Wood, N. R., Hales, A., & Wesselmann, E. D. (2022). How social exclusion makes radicalism flourish: A review of empirical evidence. Journal of Social Issues. 


Bernstein, M. J., Sacco, D. F., Young, S. G., Hugenberg, K., & Cook, E. (2010).  Being “in” with the in-crowd: The effects of social exclusion are enhanced by the perceived essentialism of ingroups and outgroups. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 999-1009. 


Knowles, M. L. & Gardner, W. L. (2008).  Benefits of membership: The activation and amplification of group identities in response to social rejection.  Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 1200-1213. 



Apr. 2, 2024 

Social Media & ‘Cancel Culture’ 


Schneider, F. M., Zwillich, B., Bindl, M. J., Hopp, F. R., Reich, S., & Vorderer, P. (2017). Social media ostracism: The effects of being excluded online. Computers in Human Behavior, 73, 385-393. 


Traversa, M., Tian, Y., & Wright, S. C. (2023). Cancel culture can be collectively validating for groups experiencing harm. Frontiers in Psychology, 14. 
Pfaus, J. G. (2023). The cancer of cancel culture: Spreading “correct” scientific ideologies across North American academia. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 52(1), 43-47. 







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If you experience an extenuating circumstance (e.g., illness, injury) sufficiently significant to temporarily make you unable to meet academic requirements, you may request accommodation through the following routes:  

  1. For medical absences, submitting a Student Medical Certificate (SMC) signed by a licensed medical or mental health practitioner in order to be eligible for Academic Consideration;  
  1. For non-medical absences, submitting appropriate documentation (e.g., obituary, police report, accident report, court order, etc.) to Academic Counselling in their Faculty of registration in order to be eligible for academic consideration. Students are encouraged to contact their Academic Counselling unit to clarify what documentation is appropriate. 


Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation. 


Students seeking academic consideration: 

  • are advised to consider carefully the implications of postponing tests or midterm exams or delaying handing in work;   
  • must communicate with their instructors no later than 24 hours after the end of the period covered SMC, or immediately upon their return following a documented absence 


Students seeking accommodation for religious purposes are advised to contact Academic Counselling at least three weeks prior to the religious event and as soon as possible after the start of the term. 




In the event of a COVID-19 resurgence or any other event that necessitates the course delivery moving away from face-to-face interaction, all remaining course content will be delivered entirely online, either synchronously (i.e., at the times indicated in the timetable) or asynchronously (e.g., posted on OWL for students to view at their convenience). The grading scheme will not change. Any remaining assessments will also be conducted online, as determined by the course instructor. 




In courses involving online interactions, the Psychology Department expects students to honour the following rules of etiquette: 

  • please “arrive” to class on time 
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  • please ensure that you are in a private location to protect the confidentiality of discussions in the event that a class discussion deals with sensitive or personal material 
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  • If you wish to speak, use the “raise hand” function and wait for the instructor to acknowledge you before beginning your comment or question. 
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General considerations of “netiquette”: 

  • Keep in mind the different cultural and linguistic backgrounds of the students in the course. 
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Note that disruptive behaviour of any type during online classes, including inappropriate use of the chat function, is unacceptable. Students found guilty of Zoom-bombing a class or of other serious online offenses may be subject to disciplinary measures under the Code of Student Conduct. 





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Policy on the Recording of Synchronous Sessions: Some or all of the remote learning sessions for this course (if scheduled) may be recorded. The data captured during these recordings may include your image, voice recordings, chat logs and personal identifiers (name displayed on the screen). The recordings will be used for educational purposes related to this course, including evaluations. The recordings may be disclosed to other individuals participating in the course for their private or group study purposes. Please contact the instructor if you have any concerns related to session recordings. Participants in this course are not permitted to privately record the sessions, except where recording is an approved accommodation, or the student has the prior written permission of the instructor.