- Series: Emotions and Social Behavior
- Paperback: 282 pages
- Publisher: The Guilford Press; 1 edition (July 25, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1572308311
- ISBN-13: 978-1572308312
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #537,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ostracism: The Power of Silence 1st Edition
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"This is a scholarly, engaging, and lucidly written work. Williams, a foremost authority on the topic, has done an admirable job documenting the prevalence of ostracism across history, cultures, and the course of human development. He elucidates the causes and consequences of ostracism by presenting a compelling theoretical model and supporting it through a series of fascinating laboratory experiments, Internet-based research, narrative accounts, in-depth interviews, and surveys. Social scientists and undergraduate and graduate-level students will be awed by the power of this book to explain a complex phenomenon so elegantly and to provide so many valuable insights into both the dark and bright sides of human behavior."--Constantine Sedikides, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, England
"Williams writes in a lively and engaging style about a phenomenon that until now has been paid little attention by social psychologists. Ostracism is a groundbreaking book that sets the agenda for future research in this area. The accessible tone will draw readers in from the very first page, making the book suitable for upper-level students as well as researchers and behavioral science professionals. This is a book that is very hard to put down."--Michael A. Hogg, PhD, FASSA, Professor of Social Psychology, University of Queensland, Australia
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
1. Ostracism: Ubiquitous and Powerful
2. Forty Years of Solitude: Cases of Ostracism
3. A Model of Ostracism
4. Forty Minutes of Silence: Narratives of Short-Term Episodes of the Silent Treatment
5. The Scarlet Letter Study: Five Days of Ostracism
6. Laboratory Experiments: The Ball-Tossing Paradigm
7. More Laboratory Experiments: The Train Ride
8. Cyberostracism: Getting Silenced on the Internet
9. Ostracism in and by Organizations
10. Everyday Ostracism over Days, Months, and Years
11. Reflections and Future Aims
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The book is full of stories of people who have given the silent treatment (sources) and those who have received it (targets). Williams became fascinated with ostracism in 1977 after watching a TV movie which recounted a young cadet who was ostracised at the US Military Academy at West Point for 19 months. The cadet's life there was a living hell as his mail would go missing to his belongings being vandalised. A young Aboriginal prisoner at a Townsville prison was found walking between the fences in the hope of being caught trying to escape. Why did he do this? He had be ostracised by the other prisoners to the point he was beginning to question his own existence. He just wanted someone to notice him so he would know he existed. The book is full of stories like these which are fascinating to read because no two people react to ostracism the same way. Some people have no trouble using the silent treatment on someone and will use it all the time. Some people don't have a problem using the silent treatment but they must have a very good reason for its use it's not something they would use all the time. Some people will only use the silent treatment as a last resort and some will use it but they feel very guilty in doing so and would prefer not to use it. Williams recommends that its use be avoided or if it must be used Williams recommends the target be informed of why it is being used, how long its going to be used for and when it is going to end.
Williams presents a model for understanding ostracism in the book but admits a lot more work is required on the model. The model is far from complete but its a starting point to understanding this complex social phenomena. The model is used throughout the book but never to explain how the targets feel and their reactions to the ostracism. He gives very little attention to them in the book he's focus is mainly on the sources. He notes the model may be extended to targets in the future but they are generally neglected in the model. He does discuss the targets in the book looking at their stories and how they felt. He does note that some targets reported pretending it was not happening was one way of dealing with it. Towards the end Williams does talk about what targets can do about receiving the silent treatment but he addresses it rather briefly. His advice to targets is you can try to talk to them about it but there is no guarantee they will talk or even stop. Once ostracism starts it can be very difficult to stop for it requires one to admit they were wrong to use it and one may be reluctant to do so if the ostracism was wrongly applied. Sometimes the best solution to being the target of ostracism Williams comments is to leave the situation or environment and try to regain those lost needs elsewhere.
The book begins with the outcomes of qualitative research into short-term victims and "sources" of ostracism. Qualitiative research conducted with long-term victims of ostracism is also presented - the most harrowing instance of which involves a woman who was subjected to the silent treatment by her husband for 30 years.
The book moves on to discuss role-playing and laboratory research into ostracism. It also presented Williams's theoretical model and specific applications of ostracism in real-life settings such as the workplace. Unfortunately, the book provides little solid advice (but for a few anecdotes) on how to counter ostracism or the silent treatment in a consistently effective manner.
I have used an ostracism demonstration in university classrooms that was developed by Kip Williams (the train ride role play) and it is a very powerful demonstration of how strongly people feel isolation - even in contrived situations.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in psychology. For people interested in the topic of ostracism in particular, you should also read "The Social Outcast" edited by Williams and Forgas.
Anyone who has observed or experienced shunning, exile, or ostracism by individuals, groups, in the workplace -- and now cyberspace, will gain valuable insight from this well-researched book. If you or your child are constantly being left out, bullied, ignored, set apart, or otherwise excommunicated from social and religious groups or by family members, this book is essential.
Dr,Williams presents his easy to understanding work from which to garner a clear understanding of one of the most neglected and least understood ways in which ostracism, imposed isolation, exile, and/or the silent treatment can lead to psychological denial of one's own existance--and even death. By presenting the points of view of both "sources" and their "targets" he shows the consequences to the target and the control needs of the source. The author's comprehensive view of the severence of bonds as a means of control by the source, and how such treatment threatens many of most basic fundamental human needs: belonging, bonding, self-esteem, meaningful existance, and the need for control over one's own life.
William's hits the nail on the head when he states "...we might expect that researchers in clinical psychology,counseling, or family therapy would have devoted at least some attention to the silent treatment, yet little or no mention has been given to the silent treatment in these fields." (p. 15.) I would also add clergy, domestic violence professionals, and teachers among those who could benefit from understanding of this highly dangerous and destructive behavior that to date rarely appears in the literature.
For those already credentialed, and for students in the social sciences, this book should be added to the canon of required reading.