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Social Causes and Consequences of Rejection Sensitivity


Requests for reprints should be sent to Geraldine Downey, Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027. E-mail:


Predictions from the Rejection Sensitivity (RS) model concerning the social causes and consequences of RS were examined in a longitudinal study of 150 middle school students. Peer nominations of rejection, self-report measures of anxious and angry rejection expectations, and social anxiety, social withdrawal, and loneliness were assessed at two time points. Results indicate that peer rejection at Time 1 predicted an increase in anxious and angry expectations of rejection at Time 2, but only for boys. Being liked by peers, irrespective of level of dislike, predicted a reduction in anxious rejection expectations in both boys and girls. Further, anxious expectations of rejection were uniquely predictive of increased social anxiety and withdrawal. Angry expectations of rejection, an established unique predictor of increased aggression, predicted decreased social anxiety. Both anxious and angry expectations predicted increased loneliness, but neither were unique predictors of loneliness. Implications of viewing anxious and angry expectations of rejection as distinct cognitive–affective vulnerabilities for adolescents are discussed.

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