Rejection Sensitivity and the Rejection–Hostility Link in Romantic Relationships
Article first published online: 20 JAN 2010
© 2010, Copyright the Authors. Journal compilation © 2010, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Journal of Personality
Special Issue: Trait Anger and Reactive Aggression: Edited by: Michael D. Robinson and Benjamin M. Wilkowski
Volume 78, Issue 1, pages 119–148, February 2010
How to Cite
Romero-Canyas, R., Downey, G., Berenson, K., Ayduk, O. and Kang, N. J. (2010), Rejection Sensitivity and the Rejection–Hostility Link in Romantic Relationships. Journal of Personality, 78: 119–148. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2009.00611.x
- Issue published online: 20 JAN 2010
- Article first published online: 20 JAN 2010
ABSTRACT Rejection sensitivity is the disposition to anxiously expect, readily perceive, and intensely react to rejection. In response to perceived social exclusion, highly rejection sensitive people react with increased hostile feelings toward others and are more likely to show reactive aggression than less rejection sensitive people in the same situation. This paper summarizes work on rejection sensitivity that has provided evidence for the link between anxious expectations of rejection and hostility after rejection. We review evidence that rejection sensitivity functions as a defensive motivational system. Thus, we link rejection sensitivity to attentional and perceptual processes that underlie the processing of social information. A range of experimental and diary studies shows that perceiving rejection triggers hostility and aggressive behavior in rejection sensitive people. We review studies that show that this hostility and reactive aggression can perpetuate a vicious cycle by eliciting rejection from those who rejection sensitive people value most. Finally, we summarize recent work suggesting that this cycle can be interrupted with generalized self-regulatory skills and the experience of positive, supportive relationships.