This research was supported by grants to Geraldine Downey from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health (MH51113), and a W.T. Grant Foundation Faculty Scholar Award. We thank Niall Bolger. Keith Davis, Ken Dodge, Carol Dweck, Antonio Freitas. Walter Mischel, and Yuichi Shoda for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article.
Rejection sensitivity and male violence in romantic relationships
Article first published online: 20 MAY 2005
Volume 7, Issue 1, pages 45–61, March 2000
How to Cite
DOWNEY, G., FELDMAN, S. and AYDUK, O. (2000), Rejection sensitivity and male violence in romantic relationships. Personal Relationships, 7: 45–61. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2000.tb00003.x
- Issue published online: 20 MAY 2005
- Article first published online: 20 MAY 2005
Rejection sensitivity is the disposition to anxiously expect, readily perceive, and intensely react to rejection by significant others. A model of the role of this disposition in male violence toward romantic partners is proposed. Specifically, it is proposed that rejection sensitivity is a vulnerability factor for two distinct maladaptive styles of coping with intimate relationships. Rejection-sensitive men may attempt to prevent anticipated rejection by reducing their investment in intimate relationships. Alternatively, they may become highly invested in intimate relationships in search of an unconditionally supportive partner. Their low threshold for perceiving and overreacting to rejection, however, heightens their risk of responding aggressively to their partners’negative or ambiguous behavior. Cross-sectional data from 217 male college students supported predictions derived from the model. Among college men who reported relatively high investment in romantic relationships, anxious expectations of rejection predicted dating violence. Among men who reported relatively low investment in romantic relationships, anxious expectations of rejection predicted reduced involvement in discretionary close relationships with friends and romantic partners and, more generally, increased distress in and avoidance of social situations.