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Girls' Use of Defense Mechanisms Following Peer Rejection


concerning this article should be addressed to Marlene J. Sandstrom, Department of Psychology, Williams College, Bronfman Science Center, Williamstown, MA 01267. E-mail may be sent to


This study explores the relation between girls' social adjustment and their use of defense mechanisms. We recruited girls representing four sociometric status classifications (rejected, neglected, average, and popular), and assessed their use of defense mechanisms both before and after encountering a peer rejection experience in the laboratory. We hypothesized that increasing degrees of social maladjustment would be associated with higher levels of defense use, particularly after encountering a rejection experience. Our results supported these hypotheses. There was a significant negative relationship between social adjustment and defense use, both prior to and immediately following the rejection experience. Categorical analyses revealed that rejected and neglected girls used more defenses following the rejection experience than did popular and average girls.