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Keywords:

  • rejection sensitivity;
  • peer rejection;
  • appraisal;
  • social adjustment

Abstract

In the current study, 95 children of different social status classifications (rejected, neglected, average, and popular) were exposed to hypothetical vignettes designed to assess their ‘generalized’ rejection sensitivity (GRS) and a mild social rejection experience designed to assess their ‘on-line’ rejection sensitivity (ORS). Measures of internalizing and externalizing problems were assessed through a composite of peer- , parent- , and self-reports. As expected, sociometric rejection was associated with more internalizing and externalizing problems. More importantly, both types of rejection sensitivity were associated with internalizing and externalizing problems after controlling for the effect of peer rejection. High levels of GRS were associated with more internalizing problems for both boys and girls. In addition, rejection sensitivity emerged as a significant moderator of the relation between rejection and externalizing problems. The nature of the moderating effect varied as function of type of rejection sensitivity and gender. Rejected girls with low GRS and rejected boys with high ORS displayed the highest levels of externalizing behavior problems.