The 50 Shades of Social Rejection: The Role of Rejection-Sensitivity in Everyday Exclusion Experiences
Being rejected is rarely a pleasant experience. However, the reactions people have to being excluded are more consequential than the rejection itself. Critically, individuals differ in how they perceive and evaluate rejection circumstances. In fact, rejection sensitivity refers to an individual's disposition to "anxiously expect, readily perceive, and overreact to rejection" (Downey & Feldman, 1996). Rejection sensitive individuals have a heightened vulnerability to experiencing rejection and responding in a maladaptive way (including instances when there is no intended rejection). To what extent the rejection experiences these individuals have differ from those of others in terms of type of rejection (outright rejection vs. passive exclusion), source (friend vs. romantic partner), or specific emotional reactions (e.g., anger) still remains largely unknown. To this end, the present study will examine the nature of rejection experiences reported by highly rejection-sensitive individuals, identify distinctive qualities of these experiences, and test whether they are more likely to involve angry reactions. The findings will illuminate everyday experiences of rejection and will reveal the unique nature of social experiences of rejection-sensitive individuals.