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The Psychology of Not Responding to Text Messages – A Sign of Being Ostracized

Psychology of Not Responding to Text Messages and Research has shown that social isolation, rejection and ostracism are often painful experiences.

However, how easy is it to create the sense of being marginalized?

Anita Smith of Marquaria University and Kipling D. Williams of Purdue University conducted a study to determine if it was important for participants to observe other people engaging in social interactions without experiencing the negative effects of being ostracized.

They published their research in Group Dynamics: Theory Research, Practice and Theory in 2004.

In research studies that were conducted prior to their own, participants were able to see others ‘ interactions with each other in a non-intrusive manner.

On the other hand, Smith and Williams prevented participants from knowing if other participants were communicating with them by requiring all participants to use text messages on their mobile phones.

The study, which involved 40 students from the college was randomly assigned in four groups.

The four groups consisted of an ostracism condition as well as an in-group or out-group condition. This design is often referred to as a 2×2 factorial design.

Once assigned to a group the participant took an online questionnaire on demographics in a group with two other people who were actually confederates of researchers.

In the next step, “they were told they were to begin by responding to two questions posed by the researcher (one of which was the out-group and in-group manipulation) Then, they had to keep up the dialogue until the researcher ordered they were to cease. Two confederates were then taken into a separate room, and left completely alone,” as Smith and Williams describe.

The condition of the out-group and in-group was altered via a text message asking the person via text message if the person used to smoke. In the group condition, “the confederate would say that they had the same smoking habits as the participants” however, in the out-group situation, the participants “would say they did not share the same smoking habit.”

The inclusion or ostracism condition was altered by responding to the participants ‘ text messages or refusing to respond to any participant’s texts for the duration of eight minutes.

As compared to the people who were involved in the text-based conversations, “participants who were ostracized had a lower sense of belonging, control, self-esteem, and meaningful existence.”

People who were marginalized experienced a less positive mood, feeling angry and seeking greater peace with others.

The effects were observed even though the people involved didn’t know they were a deliberate disregard for them by others. For all they were aware, they could have not received an answer due to technical issues or other problems.

“The accumulated evidence points to the conclusion that other potentially mitigating factors, like in-group/out-group membership, individual differences, ability to attribute ostracism to nonpunitive causes, and lack of knowledge that others in the group are communicating with each other, are overwhelmed by merely being ignored and excluded.”


Smith, A. & Williams, K.D. (2004). Is there anyone there? Obscurity through cell phone text messages. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research and Practice Vol. 8, No. 4 291-301.

What is the psychology of people who don’t reply to messages?

There is no psychology of not responding to messages, it is just an individual’s preference. People who are interested in you and give you priority will reply to you don’t matter how much they have a busy routine, in the other hand people who did not have priorities for you they will not respond to your messages even if they are free, So, its personal preferences

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