Because the desire to be accepted is a central human motive, it is not surprising that rejection can trigger a variety of maladaptive reactions, including violence and depression. Nevertheless, there are individual differences in how people react to rejection. We have previously proposed that rejection sensitivity (RS) --the disposition to anxiously expect, readily perceive and intensely react to rejection -- helps explain this variability. Our research to date has shown that people who anxiously expect rejection more readily perceive it in others' behavior and then react in hostile ways that undermine their relationships. The purpose of the proposed research is to understand more fully why people who anxiously expect rejection behave in ways that lead to the realization of their worst fears. Our approach is guided by the view that RS develops to defend the self against rejection while maintaining social connection. We propose that situations where high RS individuals expect rejection activate the defensive motivational system (DMS), a generic system evolved to guide rapid and intense responses to threats of danger. DMS prepares the organism to detect threat-relevant cues, to engage in vigorous efforts to prevent the realization of the threat, and to react quickly and intensely if the threat is realized. This viewpoint leads to the following predictions about the dynamics of RS, which guide the specific aims of the application:
Aim 1 is to test the assumption that RS is a defensively motivated system that gets elicited by rejection-relevant stimuli. We will do so by establishing whether in rejection-relevant contexts individuals high in RS show heightened potentiation of the startle response, a robust indicator of DMS activation.
Aim 2 is to examine whether, when the DMS is activated by the possibility of rejection, high RS individuals show both a heightened propensity to detect interpersonal negativity and to interpret such negativity as personal rejection. In combination, these processes can potentially explain why HRS individuals more readily perceive rejection than those low in RS.
Aim 3 is to test whether being in this defensive state triggers vigorous efforts to prevent rejection, that involve over-accommodation to partners through self-silencing and excessive solicitousness. We will also test whether over-accommodation gives way to hostile and dejected overreactions when rejection is perceived. ? ?

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
1R01MH069703-01
Application #
6708695
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-4 (01))
Program Officer
Oliveri, Mary Ellen
Project Start
2004-01-01
Project End
2008-12-31
Budget Start
2004-01-01
Budget End
2004-12-31
Support Year
1
Fiscal Year
2004
Total Cost
$304,931
Indirect Cost
Name
Columbia University (N.Y.)
Department
Psychology
Type
Other Domestic Higher Education
DUNS #
049179401
City
New York
State
NY
Country
United States
Zip Code
10027
Aguilar, Lauren; Downey, Geraldine; Krauss, Robert et al. (2016) A Dyadic Perspective on Speech Accommodation and Social Connection: Both Partners' Rejection Sensitivity Matters. J Pers 84:165-77
Berenson, Kathy R; Paprocki, Christine; Thomas Fishman, Marget et al. (2015) Rejection Sensitivity, Perceived Power, and HIV Risk in the Relationships of Low-Income Urban Women. Women Health 55:900-20
Romero-Canyas, Rainer; Reddy, Kavita S; Rodriguez, Sylvia et al. (2013) After All I Have Done For You: Self-silencing Accommodations Fuel Women's Post-Rejection Hostility. J Exp Soc Psychol 49:732-740
Romero-Canyas, Rainer; Downey, Geraldine (2013) What I see when I think it's about me: people low in rejection-sensitivity downplay cues of rejection in self-relevant interpersonal situations. Emotion 13:104-17
Romero-Canyas, Rainer; Downey, Geraldine; Reddy, Kavita S et al. (2010) Paying to belong: when does rejection trigger ingratiation? J Pers Soc Psychol 99:802-23
Ayduk, Ozlem; Kross, Ethan (2010) From a distance: implications of spontaneous self-distancing for adaptive self-reflection. J Pers Soc Psychol 98:809-29
Berenson, Kathy R; Gyurak, Anett; Ayduk, Ozlem et al. (2009) Rejection sensitivity and disruption of attention by social threat cues. J Res Pers 43:1064-1072
Ayduk, Ozlem; Gyurak, Anett; Luerssen, Anna (2009) Rejection sensitivity moderates the impact of rejection on self-concept clarity. Pers Soc Psychol Bull 35:1467-78
Ayduk, Ozlem; Zayas, Vivian; Downey, Geraldine et al. (2008) Rejection Sensitivity and Executive Control: Joint predictors of Borderline Personality features. J Res Pers 42:151-168
Ayduk, Ozlem; Gyurak, Anett; Luerssen, Anna (2008) Individual differences in the rejection-aggression link in the hot sauce paradigm: The case of Rejection Sensitivity. J Exp Soc Psychol 44:775-782

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