The Effects of Rejection Sensitivity on Reactive and Proactive Aggression


Correspondence to: Nicky Jacobs, Institute of Human Development and Counselling, Faculty of Education, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia 3800. E-mail:


The aim of this research was to use a pure measure of aggression to clarify whether rejection sensitive children exhibit higher levels of aggressive behavior than those who are not as rejection sensitive and to examine whether the components of rejection sensitivity (RS) vary according to the types of aggression. A total of 287 Australian primary school students aged between 9 and 12 completed self-report measures of RS and aggression. As expected, RS and its components, angry and anxious expectations of rejection, were linked to generalized aggression (GA) in adolescents, with angry expectations being more strongly associated with GA and in particular, proactive aggression. As expected, RS predicted reactive aggression better than it did proactive aggression and a three-way interaction was found whereby the relationship between the type of RS and aggression differed as a function of the type of aggression. The present study offers new evidence to support the theory that RS is predictive of aggressive behavior in children and clarifies some confusion about the attributional affect and processes behind this behavior. The findings both support and extend existing research in the areas of RS and aggression. Aggr. Behav. 39:3-12, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.