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Emotional responses to interpersonal rejection

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A great deal of human emotion arises in response to real, anticipated, remembered, or imagined rejection by other people. Because acceptance by other people improved evolutionary fitness, human beings developed biopsychological mechanisms to apprise them of threats to acceptance and belonging, along with emotional systems to deal with threats to acceptance. This article examines seven emotions that often arise when people perceive that their relational value to other people is low or in potential jeopardy, including hurt feelings, jealousy, loneliness, shame, guilt, social anxiety, and embarrassment. Other emotions, such as sadness and anger, may occur during rejection episodes, but are reactions to features of the situation other than low relational value. The article discusses the evolutionary functions of rejectionrelated emotions, neuroscience evidence regarding the brain regions that mediate reactions to rejection, and behavioral research from social, developmental, and clinical psychology regarding psychological and behavioral concomitants of interpersonal rejection.
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Clinical research
Emotional responses to interpersonal
rejection
Mark R. Leary, PhD
Emotional responses to
interpersonal rejection
I
nterpersonal rejections constitute some of the
most distressing and consequential events in people’s
lives. Whether one considers a romantic rejection, the
dissolution of a friendship, ostracism by a group, es-
trangement from family members, or merely being ig-
nored or excluded in casual encounters, rejections have
myriad emotional, psychological, and interpersonal
consequences. People not only react strongly when they
perceive that others have rejected them, but a great
deal of human behavior is influenced by the desire to
avoid rejection.
This article begins with a brief primer on the adap-
tive significance of emotions and discusses the interper-
sonal functions of rejection-related emotions in particu-
lar. It then examines specific emotions that are involved
in the management of social acceptance and rejection—
including hurt feelings, jealousy, loneliness, shame, guilt,
social anxiety, and embarrassment—as well as others
that often arise during rejection episodes, but that are
not specific to rejection.
Copyright © 2015 AICH – Servier Research Group. All rights reserved 435 www.dialogues-cns.org
Keywords: anger; emotion; guilt; hurt feelings; interpersonal rejection; jealousy;
loneliness; shame; social anxiety
Author affiliations: Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke
University, Durham, North Carolina, USA
Address for correspondence: Mark Leary, Department of Psychology and
Neuroscience, PO Box 90086, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA
(e-mail: leary@duke.edu)
A great deal of human emotion arises in response to
real, anticipated, remembered, or imagined rejec-
tion by other people. Because acceptance by other
people improved evolutionary fitness, human beings
developed biopsychological mechanisms to apprise
them of threats to acceptance and belonging, along
with emotional systems to deal with threats to accep-
tance. This article examines seven emotions that of-
ten arise when people perceive that their relational
value to other people is low or in potential jeopardy,
including hurt feelings, jealousy, loneliness, shame,
guilt, social anxiety, and embarrassment. Other emo-
tions, such as sadness and anger, may occur during
rejection episodes, but are reactions to features of
the situation other than low relational value. The ar-
ticle discusses the evolutionary functions of rejection-
related emotions, neuroscience evidence regarding
the brain regions that mediate reactions to rejection,
and behavioral research from social, developmental,
and clinical psychology regarding psychological and
behavioral concomitants of interpersonal rejection.
© 2015, AICH – Servier Research Group Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2015;17:435-441.
Clinical research
The adaptive significance of emotions
Since the publication of Darwin’s seminal book, The
Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals,1 theo-
rists have regarded emotions as evolved adaptations
that provide an advantage to survival and reproduc-
tion.2,3 In particular, emotions signal the presence of
events that have potentially major implications for an
animal’s well-being—specifically, important threats and
opportunities in its environment—thereby causing the
individual to focus on concerns that require immedi-
ate attention. Once aroused, emotions involve not only
subjective feelings, but also a motivational readiness to
respond in a particular fashion to the threat or opportu-
nity (the emotion’s “action tendency”). Some emotions
also involve expressive movements that communicate
the animal’s state to others and that lead conspecifics to
respond in desired ways, as when an animal’s threaten-
ing stare frightens intruders out of its territory.
Many emotions can be precipitated by either im-
personal or interpersonal events. For example, people
may become frightened, angry, or sad due to either im-
personal acts of nature or the actions of other people.
Other emotions, however, are experienced only with
respect to real, anticipated, remembered, or imagined
encounters with other people. For example, embarrass-
ment, hurt feelings, and loneliness are inherently social
emotions that involve threats and challenges that arise
in interpersonal interactions and relationships.
We focus here specifically on emotions that are
caused by the prospect or presence of rejection by oth-
er people. The fact that rejection consistently evokes
strong emotional reactions suggests that acceptance and
rejection had important adaptive implications through-
out human evolution that led to the promulgation of
the genes of our hominid ancestors who experienced
emotions in response to signs of rejection. On the sa-
vannas of east Africa where most human evolution oc-
curred, survival and reproduction depended heavily on
living within a group that provided resources, protec-
tion against predators, and care for offspring. Because
individuals who lived within the protective confines of
the group fared far better than those who did not, natu-
ral selection favored prehuman and human beings who
formed and maintained supportive relationships with
others. As a result, a drive to form and maintain some
minimum number of lasting, positive, and significant in-
terpersonal relationships—a need for acceptance and
belonging—evolved as a fundamental aspect of human
nature.4
However, successfully living within a group requires
that individuals be accepted (or at least tolerated) by
other members of the group. To remain in the good
graces of other group members, people have to behave
in ways that foster their acceptance by others, whether
they are coalition members, friends, family members,
mates, acquaintances, or whoever. In addition, they
need to be vigilant to indications of disapproval and
devaluation, both to avoid behaving in ways that might
lead to rejection and to address any problems that arise.
Because rejection had serious, potentially fatal, conse-
quences in the ancestral environment, a person would
have needed to avoid social exclusion and ostracism at
nearly all costs and had to be attuned to cues indicat-
ing that his or her positive standing in other people’s
eyes might be in jeopardy. Thus, human beings devel-
oped bio-psychological mechanisms to apprise them of
threats to acceptance and belonging, an emotional aver-
sion to cues that connote rejection and exclusion, and
motivational systems to deal with threats to acceptance.
This psychological system has been characterized as
a “sociometer”5 that monitors the social environment
for cues relevant to one’s relational value—the degree
to which other people regard their relationship with the
individual to be valuable or important. Indications of
low relational value can range from explicit indications
of rejection, such as a romantic breakup or expulsion
from a group, to subtle expressions of disinterest, dis-
approval, or dislike, such as low responsiveness, distant
body language, and avoidance. Perceiving that others
do not adequately value one’s relationship triggers the
sociometer and its concomitant emotional and motiva-
tional responses. Even the possibility of relational de-
valuation can cause negative emotions, as does realizing
that one may have behaved in ways that might lower
one’s relational value and, thus, jeopardize one’s accep-
tance by others.
Neuroscientific investigations suggest that much of
the activity of the sociometer is mediated by the dor-
sal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and anterior in-
sula. Among other functions, these neural regions are
also associated with physical pain, which may help to
explain why people report that they are “hurt” when
others devalue or reject them. Not only does rejection
lead to increased activity in the dACC and anterior in-
sula,6,7 but people who score high on measures of rejec-
436
Interpersonal rejection and emotions - Leary Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience - Vol 17 . No. 4 . 2015
tion sensitivity show greater activity in these areas in re-
sponse to rejecting stimuli than people low in rejection
sensitivity,8,9 and activity in these regions correlates with
self-reported social distress in response to rejection.10-12
Interestingly, activity in these regions during rejection is
also associated with changes in people’s feelings about
themselves at the moment (ie, state self-esteem), which
is consistently affected by rejection and may be an in-
ternal, psychological gauge of one’s relational value.13 A
recent meta-analysis shows that the ventral and dACC
are most consistently involved in reactions to rejec-
tion.14
Several specific emotions arise from the prospect or
presence of rejection, including hurt feelings, loneliness,
jealousy, guilt, shame, social anxiety, embarrassment,
sadness, and anger. However, as we will see, some of
these emotions are elicited by perceived low relational
value per se, whereas others are caused by other differ-
ent features of the rejection episode.
Hurt feelings
The emotion that is most consistently and incontrovert-
ibly associated with low perceived relational value is
the one that people colloquially call “hurt feelings.”15,16
In many ways, hurt feelings can be regarded as the “re-
jection emotion”17 in that people’s feelings are hurt by
events that connote that other people do not regard
their relationship with them to be as valuable or impor-
tant as the individual desires, thereby leading them to
feel rejected.
In a study of 168 hurtful episodes,18 all but two of the
episodes appeared to be caused by participants’ percep-
tions that one or more other people did not sufficiently
value their relationship. Furthermore, participants’ rat-
ings of how hurt they felt in the situation they recount-
ed correlated highly with the degree to which they felt
rejected. Criticism was the most common cause of hurt
feelings. Not only does criticism convey that another
person thinks that one possesses negatively valued attri-
butes, often with implications for one’s relational value
and acceptance, but the simple action of voicing a criti-
cism, even one that is justified, sometimes implies that
the criticizer does not value his or her relationship with
the target. (People often refrain from strongly criticiz-
ing those they care about.) In addition, people in this
study also reported being hurt by betrayal (which indi-
cates that the betrayer does not adequately value his or
her relationship with the betrayed person), passive dis-
association (ignoring or avoiding the individual), and,
of course, explicit rejection, exclusion, ostracism, and
abandonment.
In brief, evidence shows that people’s feelings are
hurt when they believe that others do not sufficiently
value their relationship.17 People typically experience
hurtful events as rejection, although people’s feelings
can be hurt even when they know that other individuals
accept or care about them at some level if they believe
that the others do not value their relationship as much
as they desire.
Jealousy
People feel jealous when they believe that another per-
son values his or her relationship with them less than
they desire because of the presence or intrusion of a
third party. Although people usually think of jealousy in
the context of romantic and sexual relationships,19 peo-
ple may feel jealous whenever they believe that a third
party has caused them to have lower-than-desired rela-
tional value to another person. For example, children
may be jealous of the attention that a parent devotes to
a sibling, or an employee may feel jealous because the
boss seems to favor another employee. Jealousy is often
accompanied by fear about the possibility of losing the
relationship entirely and anger toward the relational
partner and the rival.20
The action tendency associated with jealousy in-
volves a motivation to eliminate the influence of the
third party. Jealous people may try to increase their
desirability (and, thus, their relational value and ac-
ceptance) to the target and/or diminish the third par-
ty’s influence by disparaging the rival to the target or
threatening one or both of them. Ironically, jealous
people sometimes behave in ways that are anything but
endearing to the target, including outbursts of anger,
threats, and physical abuse.19-21 Such behaviors appear
intended to intimidate the partner into disassociating
from the rival, but they may further reduce the jealous
person’s relational value, undermine the relationship,
and lead to explicit rejection.
Loneliness and homesickness
People experience loneliness and homesickness when
they believe that people who greatly value their rela-
437
Clinical research
tionship are not available for social interaction and sup-
port. In some instances, people may not have a mean-
ingful relationship with anyone, but at other times, the
people who value and support them are simply not
available to interact and offer their support. Homesick-
ness is characterized primarily by acute feelings of lone-
liness and sadness when one is not only separated from
loved ones, but is also away from familiar circumstanc-
es.22 (In fact, homesickness is perhaps best regarded as a
blend of loneliness and sadness rather than as a distinct
emotion.)
Research shows that loneliness is linked to factors
that cause a sense of having low relational value to oth-
er people. Children who are not accepted by their peers
tend to be lonelier than those who are accepted, and
peer rejection prospectively predicts subsequent loneli-
ness.23,24 Geographical relocation also causes loneliness
by causing a loss of relationships in which people feel
relationally valued.25 Loneliness is particularly common
among people who have recently experienced bereave-
ment, divorce, or the dissolution of a close relationship
and who believe that other people do not regard them
as desirable friends and partners.26 Not all loneliness
arises from explicit rejection, but rejection is a common
antecedent of loneliness.
Guilt and shame
Guilt and shame are typically conceptualized as reac-
tions to moral or ethical violations (which they are), but
they are tied closely to people’s concerns about relation-
al value and rejection. Indeed, these emotions may have
evolved to manage situations in which one has violated
group standards in ways that, if not remediated, might
decrease one’s relational value, damage one’s relation-
ships, and even result in social rejection or group expul-
sion. Although the terms guilt and shame are often used
interchangeably, they are psychologically different emo-
tions: people feel guilty about engaging in a “bad” be-
havior, whereas they feel ashamed about being a “bad”
person.27 Because being a bad person is generally worse
than merely engaging in an undesirable behavior, shame
is typically a more intense experience than guilt.
Most theorists have traced shame and guilt to viola-
tions of one’s personal standards. However, guilt and
shame appear to be inherently social emotions rather
than merely reactions to violations of personal stan-
dards.28 (The fact that people can make us feel guilty or
ashamed even when we believe we did nothing wrong
demonstrates the centrality of interpersonal concerns
in guilt and shame.) Both guilt and shame arise in situa-
tions that have potential implications for people’s rela-
tional value to other people, but they arise in response
to slightly different concerns. When people believe that
they have done something that might lead others to re-
lationally devalue them—which is typically the case in
instances in which they behave unethically or immoral-
ly—they feel guilty. When they think that others’ judg-
ments of them as a person, particularly judgments of
their character, may lead to relational devaluation and
possible rejection, they experience shame. Of course,
people sometimes experience guilt or shame even when
no one else knows about their undesirable behaviors or
thoughts. In order to help people avoid rejection, the
sociometer can trigger guilt and shame proactively to
discourage them from doing things that, if later discov-
ered by others, might lead to devaluation and rejection.
Guilt and shame are associated with different moti-
vations or action tendencies. Guilty people are motivat-
ed to repair the damage that their undesired behavior
has caused. They apologize, ask for forgiveness, engage
in remedial behaviors and restitution, and take other
steps to improve their social image and repair their in-
terpersonal relationships.29 In contrast, shame is associ-
ated with a desire to withdraw from social interactions,
often because nothing can be done immediately to re-
pair the damage to one’s image and relational value.27
Social anxiety and embarrassment
Social anxiety—feelings of nervousness in social en-
counters—is an anticipatory response to the possibility
of conveying undesired impressions of oneself that will
lower one’s relational value in other people’s eyes.30
People realize that the degree to which others value
and accept them as relational partners, group members,
and social interactants depends heavily on how they
are perceived. For example, being viewed as attractive,
competent, likeable, and ethical generally results in
higher relational value than being viewed as unattract-
ive, incompetent, unlikeable, or immoral. Thus, when
people believe that they might not make the impres-
sions they desire to make in a particular situation (or,
worse, believe that they will make undesired impres-
sions), they experience social anxiety. Social anxiety
may have evolved as an “early warning system” that
438
Interpersonal rejection and emotions - Leary Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience - Vol 17 . No. 4 . 2015
deterred people from behaving in ways that might com-
promise their social image and relational value.30
Embarrassment also involves a concern for how one
is perceived by other people; however, whereas social
anxiety is anticipatory in nature, embarrassment occurs
when people think that they have already conveyed
an undesired impression of themselves to others.31 Al-
though people dislike appearing embarrassed, research
shows that expressions of embarrassment after mak-
ing an undesired impression help to improve people’s
public image and relational value by indicating to oth-
ers that they are aware of their undesired behavior and
that they regret behaving in a socially undesirable or
nonnormative fashion.32 Facial blushing often plays an
important role in this process, conveying the person’s
awareness that he or she has behaved unacceptably in
an involuntary, nonverbal fashion that is impossible to
fake.33 In many ways, human displays of embarrass-
ment—which often include blushing, averted gaze, and
mirthless smiling—are analogous to the appeasement
displays of other primates when they have displeased a
higher-ranking member of the group.33
Sadness and anger
Each of the emotions discussed thus far expressly in-
volves events that have implications for people’s rela-
tional value and social relationships, and each appears
designed to deter actions that might result in rejection
or, if such actions have already occurred, to manage the
interpersonal threat to one’s social connections. How-
ever, people who feel rejected often experience other
emotions that are not tied specifically to concerns with
relational value per se, including sadness and anger.
Neither sadness nor anger is caused by perceived low
relational value. Rather, sadness arises from perceived
loss, and anger arises when people perceive that anoth-
er agent (usually, but not always, a person) has unjusti-
fiably behaved in an undesired fashion that threatens
their desires or well-being.34
Although sadness can result from nonsocial loss-
es—of a prized possession or a desired opportunity, for
example—people also experience sadness when they
lose an important interpersonal relationship. For ex-
ample, people become sad when loved ones move away,
when relationships end, when they grow apart from
friends, and when trusted others betray them. In each
instance, sadness is caused specifically by the loss of a
valued connection to a particular person. In fact, when
asked to write about a typical instance in which people
feel sad, roughly two thirds of the participants in one
study wrote about the loss of a relationship or separa-
tion from a loved one, and a quarter of the participants
wrote specifically about rejection.35 Even the sadness of
bereavement may reflect, in part, the fact that one has
lost an important relationship and source of relational
value. People may also experience sadness from the loss
of a potential relationship, as when one’s affection for
another person is not returned or a person is not ac-
cepted into a team or group that he or she desired to
join. Although sadness is obviously an aversive experi-
ence, the emotion may be functional in leading people
to protect both their relationships and the people with
whom they have those relationships. Because lost rela-
tionships cause painful sadness, people are motivated to
behave in ways that protect their relational value in the
eyes of those with whom they desire to maintain close
relationships.
In extreme cases, particularly momentous or pro-
longed rejection can contribute to depressive episodes.
Of course, depression has many causes, but ostra-
cism, romantic breakups, and other forms of severe or
chronic relational devaluation are common precipita-
tors of depression in both adolescents and adults. Not
only does rejection contribute to depression,36 but also
people who are already depressed are more sensitive
to indications that others do not adequately value hav-
ing relationships with them37 and have greater difficulty
recovering from rejection.38
People also sometimes become angry when they
feel rejected but, as with sadness, anger is not caused
by perceived low relational value per se. Rather, anger
arises during rejection episodes when people interpret
the rejection as unjustified harm.17,34 In some cases, peo-
ple who feel rejected not only become angry, but also
react aggressively. Indeed, anger may be designed to
prevent, terminate, or punish specific behaviors that are
perceived as an immediate threat.39 Jilted lovers some-
times lash out, domestic violence commonly erupts
when people feel devalued by family members, and
school shootings are usually perpetrated by students
who feel ostracized by their peers.40 Whether people ag-
gress when rejected depends on a number of factors; for
example, aggression is more likely when people value
the relationship, believe that the rejection was unfair,
and believe that the relationship cannot be repaired.41
439
Clinical research
Conclusion
Several interpersonal emotions reflect reactions to real,
anticipated, remembered, or imagined rejection. Hurt
feelings, jealousy, loneliness, shame, guilt, social anxiety,
and embarrassment occur when people perceive that
their relational value to other people is low or in po-
tential jeopardy. Other emotions, such as sadness and
anger, may accompany these rejection-related emo-
tions, but are reactions to features of the rejection epi-
sode other than low relational value. As aversive, if not
downright painful, as the subjective features of these
emotions sometimes are, they nonetheless serve an im-
portant function, motivating people to behave in ways
that maintain their relational value and protect their
interpersonal relationships, alerting them to threats to
those relationships, and prompting them to take action
when relational problems arise. A person who was un-
able to experience these emotions would be incapable
of managing his or her interpersonal interactions and
relationships and would likely experience wholesale re-
jection.
Of course, self-perception of one’s relational value
is sometimes inaccurate, and a good deal of research
has examined instances in which people underestimate
or overestimate their relational value in other people’s
eyes. Importantly, like other systems that monitor the
environment for threats, the sociometer seems to be bi-
ased in the direction of false positives. This bias reflects
a functional feature of the system, decreasing the like-
lihood that people will miss cues that their relational
value is low or declining. However, the downside is that
this bias generates unnecessary distress and sometimes
leads people to overreact to relatively benign signs that
others do not value their relationship as much as they
desire.
This article has focused on negative emotions that
arise from perceived low relational value, but positive
emotions also arise from interpersonal events. People
experience intense happiness, if not joy, when they feel
admired, appreciated, or deeply loved, and explicit evi-
dence that one has high relational value—such as being
accepted into desired groups, forming friendships, and
developing other kinds of social bonds—evokes plea-
surable feelings as well.
The fact that a large portion of human emotion is de-
voted to the maintenance of interpersonal connections
points to the importance of acceptance and belonging
in human affairs. People are inherently motivated to be
valued and accepted by other people, and many of the
emotions that they experience reflect these fundamen-
tal interpersonal concerns. o
440
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441
Respuestas emocionales al rechazo interpersonal
Una parte importante de la emoción humana surge
en respuesta al rechazo de otras personas, el cual pue-
de ser real, anticipado, recordado o imaginado. Dado
que la aceptación por otras personas mejoró la aptitud
evolutiva, los seres humanos desarrollaron mecanismos
psicobiológicos para darle valor a las amenazas con-
tra la aceptación y la pertenencia, junto con los siste-
mas emocionales para manejar las amenazas contra la
aceptación. Este artículo examina siete emociones que
aparecen a menudo cuando las personas perciben que
su valor relacional con otros es bajo o está en poten-
cial peligro; incluyendo sentimientos de lástima, celos,
soledad, vergüenza, culpa, ansiedad social y bochorno.
Otras emociones, como la tristeza y el enojo, pueden
presentarse durante los episodios de rechazo, pero son
reacciones a las características de la situación más que
al bajo valor relacional. El artículo discute las funciones
a través de la evolución de las emociones relacionadas
con el rechazo, la evidencia neurocientífica sobre regio-
nes cerebrales que median las reacciones al rechazo, y la
investigación conductual de la psicología clínica, del de-
sarrollo y social acerca de los concomitantes psicológicos
y conductuales del rechazo interpersonal.
Réponses émotionnelles au rejet interpersonnel
Une grande partie des émotions humaines provient de
la réponse au rejet réel, anticipé, mémorisé ou imaginé
par les autres. Parce que l’acceptation par les autres a
amélioré l’aptitude au cours de l’évolution, les êtres hu-
mains ont développé des mécanismes biopsychologiques
pour les informer des menaces contre l’acceptation ou
l’appartenance, ainsi que des systèmes émotionnels
pour gérer les menaces contre l’acceptation. Cet article
analyse sept émotions qui surviennent souvent lorsque
les gens sentent que leur valeur relationnelle pour les
autres est faible ou potentiellement en danger : préju-
dice moral, jalousie, solitude, honte, culpabilité, anxiété
sociale et gêne. D’autres émotions comme la tristesse
et la colère peuvent apparaître pendant les épisodes de
rejet mais ce sont des réactions à des caractéristiques
d’autres situations qu’une valeur relationnelle faible.
Cet article examine les fonctions pour l’évolution des
émotions liées au rejet, les arguments des neurosciences
en ce qui concerne les régions cérébrales qui véhiculent
les réactions au rejet, et la recherche comportementale
en psychologie sociale, clinique et du développement
sur les corollaires psychologiques et comportementaux
du rejet interpersonnel.
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... Of the negative, often unanticipated, outcomes associated with initial relationship formation, rejection is commonly regarded as the most destructive. 20 Moreover, the subsequent effects of rejection are myriad, including 'hurt feelings, jealousy, loneliness, shame, guilt, social anxiety, and embarrassment'. 21 For this reason, rejection has received considerable attention in the existing literature for its detrimental effects on romantic relationships, 22 peer-group acceptance, 23 and childhood socialization. ...
Chapter
Of the negative outcomes associated with initial relationship development, rejection is among the most potent. Although previous research has examined the patterns of behavior surrounding romantic rejection within face-to-face interaction and traditional online dating (e.g., eHarmony, Match.com), no existing research has examined rejection within mobile dating apps despite their increasing popularity. This study fills the void by examining how rejection occurs within these applications by identifying the behaviors, effects, and outcomes associated with experiences of rejection. To do this, an online questionnaire analyzed how 68 mobile daters described rejection in this context. Results from open-ended questions were coded using thematic analysis and examined for term frequency and co-occurrence through semantic network analysis. The findings indicate the extent to which mobile dating apps mitigate experiences of rejection and highlight the unique affordances of mobile dating, which are unlike those of traditional online dating.
... Moreover, two studies have examined individual subjective and injunctive norms separately, showing that perceived disapproval from significant others was more strongly related to quit intentions and attempts compared with perceived societal disapproval [3,13]. Positive and negative reactions from close family or friends influence people's emotions [2,14], and having the perception that close family or friends disapprove of someone's smoking may provide a strong incentive to try to change that behaviour. There is some indication that this subjective norm may be particularly important. ...
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Background Social denormalisation of smoking can provide an environment that helps smokers to quit. This study examined which of three measures of anti-smoking social norms have the greatest influence on quitting-related cognitions and behaviours, and if this influence differs according to socioeconomic status (SES). Methods The Victorian Tracking Survey measured social norms among 1,348 (n(weighted) = 1,373) Australian adult smokers (aged 18–59) between 2012 and 2014, who were followed-up one week later. Weighted logistic regression analyses examined prospective associations of baseline subjective (family and friends’ disapproval of smoking), injunctive (feeling embarrassed about being a smoker) and descriptive norms (living with someone who tried to quit in the past 12 months), with quitting-related cognitions and behaviours at follow-up. Data were weighted to account for telephony status (landline or mobile phone), sex and age. Analyses were adjusted for demographic characteristics, addiction level, tobacco control policies and quitting-related outcomes measured at baseline. Differences in associations between lower and higher SES smokers (based on educational attainment and area-based disadvantage) were examined through interaction terms and stratified analyses. Results Sixty-four percent of participants (n(weighted) = 872) perceived disapproval from family and friends, 31% (n(weighted) = 419) felt embarrassed to be a smoker, and 11% (n(weighted) = 155) lived with a recent quitter. All three norms were associated with having set a firm date to quit in the next month and with engaging in smoking limiting behaviours. Embarrassment was also associated with an increased likelihood of talking about quitting and with making a quit attempt. Associations were mostly comparable for lower and higher SES smokers, with no significant negative rebound effects overall or among subgroups. Conclusions These findings indicate close others’ disapproval and feelings of embarrassment most strongly motivate smokers to try to quit. If tobacco control policies or media campaigns further denormalise smoking, there should be no reason for concern that such denormalisation undermines cessation behaviours.
... Several lines of research converge in showing that strong social relationships are associated with improved mental and physical health and reduced mortality risks (Cacioppo et al., 2007;Eisenberger & Cole, 2012;Seeman, 1996;Umberson & Montez, 2010). In contrast, social rejection or exclusion impairs self-regulatory abilities and elicits unpleasant emotions and even physical pain (Baumeister, DeWall, Ciarocco, & Twenge, 2005;Leary, 2015;MacDonald & Leary, 2005). Historically, the research literature concerning interpersonal acceptance has predominantly focused on children's relationships with their parents (Rohner & Khaleque, 2002), but acceptance in other close relationships during adulthood also is important (Rohner, 2016). ...
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Acceptance-rejection studies and inventories commonly examine children’s relationships with parents, but no measurement scale is available in the literature to assess interpersonal acceptance across adulthood close relationships. The Adult Interpersonal Acceptance–Rejection Scale (AIARS) was developed, validated, and psychometrically scrutinized across three studies using independent samples of adult participants. In Study 1 (N = 342), the created items were administered to participants and data were subjected to exploratory factor analysis. The correlated three-factor structure of Mother Acceptance, Best Friend Acceptance, and Romantic Partner Acceptance was preliminarily supported. In Study 2 (N = 420), confirmatory factor analysis successfully cross-validated the three-factor measurement model after the deletion of items possessing the poorest loadings. In Study 3 (N = 315), convergent, discriminant, and criterion validities were scrutinized with tests of correlations and multiple regression. Higher acceptance subscale scores uniquely contributed to higher positive emotions, lower negative emotions, and higher life satisfaction. The current research confers measurement and assessment insights to capture the construct of interpersonal acceptance and yields applied implications for future research using the scale. Administration of the scale is anticipated to encourage novel primary investigations that examine acceptance across pivotal close relationships in adulthood.
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Background Fisher (1985) argued that “there is no genre…that is not an episode in the story of life” (p. 347). As they incorporate moral claims, stories become ‘sticky,’ even when they are not accurate of fact, shifting listener beliefs, values, and sense of self. Purpose This study examined ‘sticky‘ storytelling and moral claims inherent in workplace bullying. Method Critical hermeneutic method nested within an integrative review served as the research approach, extending findings reported in published research reports and gray literature. Findings Through polished use of rhetorical style and resource control strategies within tacitly or explicitly supportive workplace contexts, bullies construct convincing but morally disengaged narratives—sticky stories—that violate ethical principles and yield moral ambiguity for their victims as they impede workplace productivity. Discussion Largely ineffective, policies aimed to stem bullying have done little to date to mitigate bullying's impact. Recognizing the moral storytelling characterizing workplace bullying might strengthen policy for constraining workplace bullying.
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In this chapter, I describe a model of shame and guilt development that highlights the importance of these emotions for regulation of both the individual's transactions with the environment and the individual's devel­opment of self. The model is described in terms of seven basic principles. Principle 1: Shame and guilt are "social emotions." As such, they are (1) socially constructed, (2) invariably connected with (real or imagined) social interaction, (3) endowed with significance by social communication and/or relevance to desired ends (see below), and (4) associated with appreciations (appraisals) regarding others, as well as the self. Principle 2: Shame and guilt serve important functions. The shame "family" and the guilt "family," like other emotion "families" (groups of related emotions), are defined in terms of the intrapersonal-, interpersonal-, and behavior-regulatory functions they serve for the individual. Shame reflects and organizes different transactions between individuals and environment more than guilt does. Moreover, the differences in functions served by shame versus guilt are observable. For example, shame functions to distance the individual from the social environment; guilt functions to motivate reparative action. Principle 3: Shame and guilt are associated with particular appreciations (appraisals), and these appreciations are different for shame than they are for guilt. Appreciations are intimately connected to the functions that the emotions serve for the individual in the environment. Principle 4: Shame and guilt each are associated with particular action tendencies, which make sense given the appreciations and functions they involve. Shame is associated with avoidance and withdrawal Guilt, on the other hand, is associated with outward movement, aimed at reparation for a wrongdoing. Principle 5: Shame and guilt aid in the development of a sense of self. Shame and guilt experiences contribute in important ways to the child's development of a sense of self. Such experiences highlight the importance and consequences of a child's behavior, including successes and failures. As a result, they highlight the kind of behaviors the child can (or cannot) and does (or does not) do. In addition, such experiences highlight how others view the child and his or her behavior, which also helps the child to learn how to evaluate himself or herself. Principle 6: Cognitive understandings do not determine the emergence of shame and guilt. Broad cognitive understandings, such as of "the categorical self," standards and rules for behavior, or personal responsibility for behavior are neither necessary nor sufficient for the emergence of guilt nor shame. Such understandings do, however, contribute to the nature of shame and guilt experiences as well as the conditions under which these emotions can occur. Principle 7: Socialization is crucial to the development of shame and guilt. Socialization experiences play a major role in the development of shame and guilt. Socialization causes the child to care about the opinions of others, making the child want to follow social standards. It teaches the child about rules and standards for behavior, and endows particular standards with significance. All of these are central to the development of shame and guilt.
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According to Vangelisti (2007), “whenever two people communicate, they risk hurting each other” (p. 121). Such risk is elevated when the communication involves conflict. Interactions involving conflicts tend to be more arousing and to elicit more negative emotions than do other conversations (Levenson & Gottman, 1985). The heightened affective intensity associated with conflict provides abundant occasions for hurt feelings. Indeed, the apparent connection between conflict and hurt is strong enough that some scholars treat being hurt as synonomous with interpersonal conflict (e.g., Wainryb, Brehl, & Matwin, 2005). Other scholars simply assume that conflict is inherently hurtful; for instance, one study examining the “most frequently used strategies of relational conflict resolution” was titled “You always hurt the one you love…” (Fitzpatrick & Winke, 1979, p. 3). Despite the belief that conflict and hurt are closely related, there is surprisingly little research that systematically examines their association. This lack of focus on hurt and conflict is remarkable given that other emotions, like anger, are frequently linked to conflict (e.g., Notarius, Lashley, & Sullivan, 1997). Clearly, addressing this gap in the literature could be useful, potentially answering questions such as “How can individuals make their conflicts less hurtful?” and “Can (and should) people prevent hurt feelings from leading to interpersonal conflicts?” A single chapter can only begin to address such questions, but our goals are (a) to adumbrate the research that does exist on conflict and hurt and (b) to provide an initial framework for thinking about how the hurtful aspects of conflict can be reduced.
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The μ-opioid receptor (MOR) system, well known for dampening physical pain, is also hypothesized to dampen 'social pain.' We used positron emission tomography scanning with the selective MOR radioligand [(11)C]carfentanil to test the hypothesis that MOR system activation (reflecting endogenous opioid release) in response to social rejection and acceptance is altered in medication-free patients diagnosed with current major depressive disorder (MDD, n=17) compared with healthy controls (HCs, n=18). During rejection, MDD patients showed reduced endogenous opioid release in brain regions regulating stress, mood and motivation, and slower emotional recovery compared with HCs. During acceptance, only HCs showed increased social motivation, which was positively correlated with endogenous opioid release in the nucleus accumbens, a reward structure. Altered endogenous opioid activity in MDD may hinder emotional recovery from negative social interactions and decrease pleasure derived from positive interactions. Both effects may reinforce depression, trigger relapse and contribute to poor treatment outcomes.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 20 January 2015; doi:10.1038/mp.2014.185.
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This study examined the association between geographical relocations and selected indicators of personal well-being among early adolescents in five communities in the United States. Relocation was measured both by recency of residential change and by the number of lifetime moves between towns that the adolescents had made. Well-being was self-esteem, alienation, depression, and life satisfaction. The results indicated that neither recent relocations nor a history of relocations were associated with well-being among males, but that life satisfaction was negatively affected by recent moves as well as high number of moves in the history of females. A history of frequent moves also resulted in lower levels of depression among females. The results are discussed in terms of gender differences and responses to moving and the reasons why relocations may have only a moderate affect on this age child.
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It is proposed that interpersonal loss that communicates rejection increases the risk for depression specifically in individuals who not only expect rejection but are also concerned about preventing it. Accordingly, the role of rejection sensitivity (RS)—the disposition to anxiously expect, readily perceive, and overreact to rejection—in women’s depressive reactions to rejection by a romantic partner was examined. A 6-month longitudinal study of college women revealed that women high in RS compared with those who are low became more depressed when they experienced a partner-initiated breakup but not when they experienced a self-initiated or mutually initiated breakup. By contrast, RS was not associated with increased depression in response to failing to achieve an academic goal. These results support the view that depression in high-RS women is a reaction to a loss in a valued goal domain, that is, failure to prevent rejection in an important relationship.
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Adolescence is a period of major risk for depression, which is associated with negative personal, social, and educational outcomes. Yet, in comparison to adult models of depression, very little is known about the specific psychosocial stressors that contribute to adolescent depression, and whether these can be targeted by interventions. In this review, we consider the role of peer rejection. First, we present a comprehensive review of studies using innovative experimental paradigms to understand the role of peer rejection in adolescent depression. We show how reciprocal relationships between peer rejection and depressive symptoms across adolescence powerfully shape and maintain maladaptive trajectories. Second, we consider how cognitive biases and their neurobiological substrates may explain why some adolescents are more vulnerable to the effects of, and perhaps exposure to, peer rejection compared to others. Finally, we draw attention to emerging cognitive and functional magnetic resonance imaging-based neurofeedback training, which by modifying aspects of information processing may promote more adaptive responses to peer rejection. A better understanding of the mechanisms underlying adolescent depression may not only alleviate symptoms during a period of substantial developmental challenges, but may also reduce the burden of the disorder across the lifespan.