Social rejection can ‘brake’ your heart

Published on September 29, 2010 at 10:18 PM · No Comments

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

Latest study shows that a social rejection can not only break a person’s heart but also result in a drop in the heart rate. The researchers from Netherlands found that the disappointment of feeling not loved or not liked can cause both psychological and physical reactions.

The reason, say scientists may lie in a person’s autonomic nervous system, which controls such functions as circulation and digestion. For the study the team at the University of Amsterdam and Leiden University enlisted a group of 27 volunteers (18 women and 9 men). They took part in experiments and were first asked to send the scientists a photograph of themselves. They were told that the study was on ‘first impressions’, and that students at another university would look at the photos to decide whether they liked the volunteers, based on a glance at the picture. But this was a cover for the real experiment.

Afterward each volunteer visited a laboratory and had wires hooked up to their chests for an electrocardiogram. A total of 120 photos of different faces were presented to each study participant, and they were then asked to guess whether the person in the photo said they liked them. The participants wrote “yes” if they thought they were accepted by the person in the picture or “no” if they expected to be rejected by them, on one side of the photo. They then were given feedback as to how the person in the photo felt about them -- although it wasn't genuine feedback but a response generated randomly by a computer for the study.

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