One-Month Stability of Cyberball Post-Exclusion Ostracism Distress in Adolescents

  • Charlie A. DavidsonEmail author
  • Cynthia J. Willner
  • Stefon J. R. van Noordt
  • Barbara C. Banz
  • Jia Wu
  • Joshua G. Kenney
  • Jason K. Johannesen
  • Michael J. Crowley


We examined one-month reliability, internal consistency, and validity of ostracism distress (Need Threat Scale) to simulated social exclusion during Cyberball. Thirty adolescents (13–18 yrs.) completed the Cyberball task, ostracism distress ratings, and measures of related clinical symptoms, repeated over one month. Need Threat Scale ratings of ostracism distress showed adequate test-retest reliability and internal consistency at both occasions. Construct validity was demonstrated via relationships with closely related constructs of anxiety, anxiety sensitivity, and emotion dysregulation, and weaker associations with more distal constructs of state paranoia and subclinical psychosis-like experiences. While ratings of ostracism distress and anxiety were significantly attenuated at retest, most participants continued to experience post-Cyberball ostracism distress at one-month follow-up, which indicates that the social exclusion induction of Cyberball persisted despite participants’ familiarity with the paradigm. Overall, results suggest that the primary construct of ostracism distress is preserved over repeated administration of Cyberball, with reliability sufficient for usage in longitudinal research. These findings have important implications for translating this laboratory simulation of social distress into developmental and clinical intervention studies.


Ostracism Social exclusion Psychometrics Anxiety sensitivity Test-retest 



This research was supported by funding from NIDA K01 [redacted] to author [redacted], and funding from an NIH T32 [redacted]. The funding organization did not have a role in the design, implementation, analysis, or interpretation of this research.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Charlie A. Davidson, Cynthia J. Willner, Stefon J. R. van Noordt, Barbara C. Banz, Jia Wu, Joshua G. Kenney, Jason K. Johannesen, and Michael J. Crowley declare they have no conflict of interest.

Experiment Participants

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee, and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Ethical Approval

This study was approved by the [redacted] Human Investigation Committee (HIC# 0104012378).

Informed Consent

Written informed consent was obtained for all 18-year-old participants, and written participant assent and parent/guardian consent were obtained for all participants under the age of 18 years.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charlie A. Davidson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cynthia J. Willner
    • 2
  • Stefon J. R. van Noordt
    • 2
  • Barbara C. Banz
    • 3
  • Jia Wu
    • 2
  • Joshua G. Kenney
    • 4
    • 5
  • Jason K. Johannesen
    • 4
    • 5
  • Michael J. Crowley
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Clinical PsychologyMercer University College of Health ProfessionsAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Yale Child Study CenterYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Department of Emergency MedicineYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  4. 4.Psychology ServiceVA Connecticut Healthcare SystemWest HavenUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychiatryYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA

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