Effects of rejection intensity and rejection sensitivity on social approach behavior in women

Violetta K. Schaan, André Schulz, Michael Bernstein, Hartmut Schächinger, Claus Vögele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective Perceived rejection plays an important role for mental health and social integration. This study investigated the impact of rejection intensity and rejection sensitivity on social approach behavior. Method 121 female participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions differing in the degree of induced rejection (inclusion, medium rejection, severe rejection). Thereafter they were asked to interact with an unknown person during a touch-based cooperative task. Results Participants high in rejection sensitivity sought significantly less physical contact than participants low in rejection sensitivity. Individuals in the medium rejection condition touched their partners more often than those in the included condition, while no difference between included and severely rejected participants could be observed. Conclusions The results suggest that the intensity of rejection matters with regard to coping. While participants in the medium intensity rejection condition aimed to 'repair' their social self by seeking increased contact with others, severely rejected participants did not adapt their behavior compared to included participants. Implications for therapy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0227799
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2020


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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