Investigating rejection sensitivity: an exploration of intrapersonal and interpersonal factors

PhD Thesis

Musgrove, Emily L.. (2010). Investigating rejection sensitivity: an exploration of intrapersonal and interpersonal factors [PhD Thesis].
AuthorsMusgrove, Emily L.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Rejection sensitivity is defined as the tendency to 'anxiously expect, readily perceive, and overreact to rejection' (Downey, Feldman, Khuri, & Friedman, 1994, p. 496). It has been conceptualised as a cognitive-affective processing disposition that undermines adaptive functioning. The overall aim of the current research was to explore the rejection sensitivity dynamic and investigate its association with maladaptive intrapersonal and interpersonal outcomes. To address this aim, four studies, each of which used a cross-sectional design, were undertaken. Study one explored the relationship between rejection sensitivity and depressive symptoms, and specifically sought to examine the role of social anxiety and loneliness within this relationship. One hundred and ninety five participants completed questionnaires assessing rejection sensitivity, depression, loneliness, and social anxiety. Consistent with predictions, the results indicated that rejection sensitivity was related to depressive symptoms. The experience of loneliness and social anxiety was found to further explicate this relationship. The second study investigated how rejection sensitive individuals think about and relate to others. Two hundred and five participants were required to complete questionnaires assessing rejection sensitivity, adult attachment styles, and the personality dispositions of sociotropy and autonomy. It was found that rejection sensitivity was most closely associated with an anxious attachment style and intimacy seeking coping strategies within close relationships.

PublisherAustralian Catholic University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Final version
Publication dates
Online01 Jan 2010
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