Go on without me: When underperforming group members prefer to leave their group

F.T. Doolaard*, M.K. Noordewier, G.J. Lelieveld, I. van Beest, E. van Dijk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
111 Downloads (Pure)


While a considerable body of literature has shown that leaving one's group is a negative experience that people tend to avoid, the current research focuses on the idea that on some occasions, leaving one's group can come with positive consequences. Across four experimental studies, we demonstrate that people's reactions to staying in versus leaving their group are modulated by their performance. Studies 1 and 2 showed that performing considerably below (vs. at the same level as) one's group members, can be an aversive experience that people prefer to avoid, even when this means being excluded by their fellow group members. Exclusion harmed low-performers' and equal-performers' feelings and need fulfilment equally, but low-performers still considered exclusion relatively relieving and preferable. They also experienced inclusion in the group as less positive than equal-performers. Studies 3 and 4 showed that low-performing participants were also relatively likely to leave the group when they had the chance. Although this resulted in participants' separation from the group, this had positive effects for them, as it restored their fundamental needs and improved their feelings, relative to when they were still part of the group.
Keywords: social exclusion, ostracism, performance, burden
Original languageEnglish
Article number104158
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Burden
  • NEED
  • Ostracism
  • PLAY
  • Performance
  • Social exclusion


Dive into the research topics of 'Go on without me: When underperforming group members prefer to leave their group'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this