Insufficient Justification for Exclusion Prompts Compensatory Behavior

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This experiment examined participants' compensatory behavior toward an excluded stranger. Participants engaged in a four-person social introductions task and rank-ordered each other member of the group; the lowest ranked person was excluded from a subsequent game. Using a 2x2 design, participants were randomly assigned to a justification condition (insufficient vs. sufficient) and to an exclusion responsibility condition (responsible for exclusion vs. exclusion by random selection). Results revealed that after limited introductions (i.e., insufficient justification for one's ranking decision), being responsible for the exclusion prompted compensatory behavior toward the excluded stranger. However, after extended introductions (i.e., sufficient justification of one's ranking decision), participants did not compensate the excluded person. These results suggest that insufficient justification for exclusion may lead to compensatory behavior, when one is responsible for the exclusion.