Belonging to social groups is an important need for human beings and social exclusion has a significant psychological impact on individual wellbeing. Social neuroscience has clarified the similarity of the neuronal substrate between physical pain and social pain during the experience of social exclusion. Pain is the oldest signal that something is wrong for our brain, and the anticipation of pain motivates a move away from perceived dangerous or noxious stimuli. The Evolutionary Theory of Motivation (ETM) considered group affiliation as an adaptive goal that supports the individual\'s adaptation to the environment; however, invalidating experiences may induce avoidance of its pursuit. In this perspective, social exclusion could thus be considered as the result of failures at one or more levels of the human motivational systems. This chapter attempts to understand the neuroscience findings on social exclusion in this theoretical framework.
Part of the book: Evolutionary Psychology Meets Social Neuroscience