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Child Dev. 1998 Aug;69(4):1074-91.

Rejection sensitivity and children's interpersonal difficulties.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA. gdowney@psych.columbia.edu

Abstract

Some children respond to social rejection in ways that undermine their relationships, whereas others respond with more equanimity. This article reports 3 studies that test the proposition that rejection sensitivity--the disposition to defensively (i.e., anxiously or angrily) expect, readily perceive, and overreact to social rejection--helps explain individual differences in response to social rejection. Data were from urban, minority (primarily Hispanic and African American) fifth to seventh graders. Study 1 describes the development of a measure of rejection sensitivity for children. Study 2 provides experimental evidence that children who angrily expected rejection showed heightened distress following an ambiguously intentioned rejection by a peer. Study 3 shows that rejection sensitive children behaved more aggressively and experienced increased interpersonal difficulties and declines in academic functioning over time.

PMID:
9768487
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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