Skip to main content

Rejection Sensitivity in Childhood and Early Adolescence: Peer Rejection and Protective Effects of Parents and Friends

  • Julie McLachlan (a1), Melanie J. Zimmer-Gembeck (a2) and Leanne McGregor (a3)

Theory suggests that rejection sensitivity, a social cognitive processing style characterised by anxious and angry expectations of rejection, develops from experiences of rejection or acceptance by others. The purpose of this study of 417 children and early adolescents (age 9 to 13) was to examine how relationship experiences are directly and interactively associated with their rejection sensitivity. In a multivariate analysis, there was an association of rejection by parents and by peers with rejection sensitivity, with a stronger association between peer rejection and sensitivity than between parent rejection and sensitivity. Regarding interactive effects, peer rejection was found to have a strong association with rejection sensitivity among participants with low or high parent acceptance, and among those with high friendship satisfaction. Yet, there was evidence of a stronger association between peer rejection and rejection sensitivity among those with low parent acceptance or high friendship quality. This was because rejection sensitivity was highest when peer rejection was high and parent acceptance was low, and sensitivity was lowest when peer rejection was low and friendship quality was high. Findings show how young people's relationships in different domains uniquely co-vary with rejection sensitivity and interact in accounting for angry and anxious expectations of rejection by others.

Corresponding author
*ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE: Melanie J. Zimmer-Gembeck, Griffith University, School of Psychology, Griffith University QLD 4222, Australia.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Relationships Research
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 1838-0956
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-relationships-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed