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In the News

Psychology In The News | The Rise of Ghosting

Rosey Gardiner-Earl

5th February 2024

Recent research from the University of Georgia found that ghosting (abruptly ending a relationship by cutting off all communication without explanation) has become remarkably common. Two-thirds of people surveyed said they have ghosted someone they were dating and have also been ghosted themselves.

While convenient for the person doing the ghosting, this silent treatment leaves the rejected person confused and searching in vain for answers. Until now, little research has examined the motivations behind ghosting or the psychological impact it has.

"Ghosting creates an ambiguous situation where one party doesn’t know what’s going on," explains study author Christina Leckfor. "We wanted to understand individual tendencies that make someone more likely to ghost, and whether people who desire closure cope worse with being on the receiving end."

The study found that being ghosted is a negative experience for almost everyone. Those with a high need for closure in relationships reported especially adverse effects from the lack of communication. For example, one participant, reflecting on a past relationship said “I even reached out to him again years later and asked for an explanation for some closure and he still wouldn't tell me why he did it. It made it so much harder to move on because I didn't know the reason. Even today it still bugs me that I don't know why he ghosted me.”

Surprisingly though, the research showed that people who desire closure were slightly more likely to consider ghosting someone else. As the party initiated the end, they felt it provided them with a clean break. This finding was the opposite of what the researchers hypothesised, that a negative relationship between the need for closure and the likelihood to ghost someone would be found.

Over half the participants also reported being ghosted by a friend, not just a romantic partner. The hurt feelings were comparable in both cases, underscoring that ghosting happens broadly across relationships.

As human connections increasingly occur online, such research sheds light on ghosting in modern dating and reflects how we end a relationship in the modern age is changing rapidly.


  1. All the participants in this study were from the USA and aged 18-29, why might this threaten the external validity of the findings?
  2. Justify why you think the researchers chose to only include participants aged 18-29One of the studies within the research asked participants to recall their emotions when they were ghosted in the past. Why might this be a problem for this research?
  3. In this correlational study, it was found that there was a positive correlation between the need for closure (as measured by a personality test) and the likelihood of ghosting someone (as measured by participant responses to hypothetical scenarios).
  4. Why can the researchers not conclude that a need for closure causes someone to ghost a person?
  5. What type of graph would be appropriate to display the correlation between the need for closure and the likelihood of ghosting someone


Lekfor C, Wood N, Slatcher RB and Hales AH (2023) From Close to Ghost: Examining the Relationship Between the Need for Closure, Intentions to Ghost, and Reactions to Being Ghosted Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 40 (8);

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Rosey Gardiner-Earl

Rosey has 15 years of experience teaching Psychology and has worked as both a Subject and Senior Leader in school and large sixth form setting. Rosey is also an experienced A level Psychology examiner.

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