The experience of social rejection can lead to an aggressive response. However, the ability to maintain a sense of social connection may reduce the likelihood of this type of response. We tested a computer-based intervention designed to use simple learning principles to boost the sense of social connection and acceptance. Adolescents aged 9-15 (n=138) first completed a conditioning game on computer that repeatedly paired their own name with images of social acceptance (versus a control condition with no systematic pairing), and subsequently reported how aggressively they would behave in response to being rejected by a peer. Those completing the self-acceptance conditioning (particularly those low in self-esteem) reported less aggressive feelings and intentions.

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Keywords Aggression, Conditioning, Game, Rejection, Self-esteem
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Journal Cognition and Emotion
Baldwin, M.W. (Mark W.), Baccus, J.R. (Jodene R.), & Milyavskaya, M. (2010). Computer game associating self-concept to images of acceptance can reduce adolescents' aggressiveness in response to social rejection. Cognition and Emotion, 24(5), 855–862. doi:10.1080/02699930902884386