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J Res Pers. 2008 Feb;42(1):151-168.

Rejection Sensitivity and Executive Control: Joint predictors of Borderline Personality features.

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  • 1University of California, Berkeley.


Two studies tested the hypothesis that rejection sensitivity (RS) and executive control (EC) jointly predict borderline personality (BP) features. We expected high RS to be related to increased vulnerability for BP features specifically in people who also had difficulties in executive control (EC). Study 1 tested this hypothesis using a sample of college students (N = 379) whereas Study 2 (N = 104) was conducted using a community sample of adults. Both studies operationalized EC by a self-report measure. For a subsample in Study 2 (N = 80), ability to delay gratification at age 4 was also used as an early behavioral precursor of EC in adulthood. In both studies, high RS was associated with increased BP features among people low in self-reported EC. Among those high in self-reported EC, the relationship between RS and BP features was attenuated. Study 2 found parallel findings using preschool delay ability as a behavioral index of EC. These findings suggest that EC may protect high RS people against BP features.

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