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Examining Appearance-Based Rejection Sensitivity During Early Adolescence


  • The authors would like to thank the students and teachers who participated in the study, as well as Charissa Cheah, Rob Coplan, and Ted Barker for their thoughtful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. They also extend special thanks to Kathy Graziadei for her support and help in coordinating the study.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Julie C. Bowker, 224 Park Hall, Department of Psychology, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, NY 14260-4110. E-mail:


The present study of 150 adolescents (M age = 13.05 years) examined the associations between appearance-based rejection sensitivity (Appearance-RS) and psychological adjustment during early adolescence, and evaluated three types of other-gender peer experiences (other-gender friendship, peer acceptance, and romantic relationships) as moderators. Appearance-RS was found to be uniquely related to two types of social anxiety, but not to self-esteem. Other-gender friendship emerged as a protective factor, whereas high other-gender peer acceptance emerged as a risk factor (especially for boys), after controlling for same-gender mutual best friendship involvement and peer acceptance. Results highlight the importance of distinguishing between different types of other-gender peer experiences during early adolescence and suggest that Appearance-RS during adolescence warrants further investigation.