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Effects of Rejection on Multiple Relationships


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Principal Investigator(s):

Edward Lemay
University of Maryland
Email: elemay@umd.edu
Home page: http://psychology.umd.edu/people/faculty.cfm

Sample size: 188
Field period: 06/10/2005 - 06/20/2005

 

Abstract:

This study examined effects of reminders of prior experiences of rejection from one relationship partner on state self-esteem, emotion, and perceived acceptance from other relationship partners. As expected, participants who recalled rejection experiences involving a romantic relationship partner reported lower state self and more negative emotions than control participants.
Moreover, perceived acceptance from other relationship partners mediated these effects.

Hypotheses:

People who recall experiences of rejection will report lower state self-esteem and more negative emotions than control participants.

People who recall experiences of rejection will report perceiving other close relationship partners as less accepting than control participants.

Effects of recalled rejection on state self-esteem and emotion will be mediated by perceptions of acceptance from other close relationship partners.

Experimental Manipulations:

Participants recalled either 1) experiences of rejection from a close relationship partner; 2) experiences of acceptance from a close relationship partner; or 3) experiences in which the close relationship partner was rejecting of a third party.

Key Dependent Variables:

State self-esteem, emotion, perceived acceptance from two other relationship partners.

Summary of Findings:

Participants in the rejection condition reported reduced state self-esteem and more negative emotions than did participants in the other two conditions. In addition, participants in the rejection condition reported feeling less accepted from two other close relationship partners. The effects of rejection on state self-esteem and emotion were mediated by the effect of rejection on perceived acceptance from the two other relationship partners. Follow-up analyses revealed that this pattern of findings pertained to rejection from romantic partners only.

Conclusion:

Findings suggest that rejection from a romantic partner can cognitively spread throughout one's social network, such that people perceive rejection from other close relationship partners. This interpersonal spreading of perceived rejection may explain why individuals may be negatively affected by rejection from a single individual despite the fact that their social networks usually consist of multiple relationship partners.


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