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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2002 Sep;83(3):556-73.

When rejection stings: how self-esteem constrains relationship-enhancement processes.

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Department of Psychology, University at Buffalo, State University of New York ,14260-4110, USA.


Three experiments examined how needs for acceptance might constrain low versus high self-esteem people's capacity to protect their relationships in the face of difficulties. The authors led participants to believe that their partner perceived a problem in their relationship. They then measured perceptions of the partner's acceptance, partner enhancement, and closeness. Low but not high self-esteem participants read too much into problems, seeing them as a sign that their partner's affections and commitment might be waning. They then derogated their partner and reduced closeness. Being less sensitive to rejection, however, high self-esteem participants affirmed their partner in the face of threat. Ironically, chronic needs for acceptance may result in low self-esteem people seeing signs of rejection where none exist, needlessly weakening attachments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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