Rejection Sensitivity in Adolescence: Peer-Related Precursors and Links with Problem Behaviors in Early Adulthood
Marston, Emily G., Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Allen, Joseph, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
This study used longitudinal, multi-reporter data in a community sample to examine the peer-related precursors of rejection sensitivity and its link with problem behaviors in late adolescence and early adulthood. First, it was hypothesized that multiple facets of the mid-adolescent peer experience (i.e., sociometric status, observed peer interactions and dyadic reports of friendship quality) would predict the development of rejection sensitivity during late adolescence and early adulthood. Latent growth curve analyses revealed links of popularity, observed peer interactions and dyadic reports of friendship quality to the development of rejection sensitivity. Results suggest that midadolescent peer experiences may be a marker of the presence or absence of social skills that become important building blocks for learning to anticipate and cope with rejection in social situations during late adolescence and early adulthood. Next, it was hypothesized that adolescent rejection sensitivity would moderate the relationship between negative peer experiences in mid-adolescence and later problem behaviors (i.e., soft drug use and externalizing behaviors). In support of this hypothesis, rejection sensitivity was found to predict elevated levels of soft drug use and relative increases in externalizing behaviors among socially-challenged teens. However, rejection sensitivity also appeared to function as a protective factor predicting relatively lower levels of soft drug use among socially-successful teens. Results provide preliminary evidence that higher levels of rejection sensitivity may have some adaptive qualities in relation to soft drug use among socially-successful teens. The importance of rejection sensitivity in understanding intrapersonal motivations for problem behaviors among late adolescents and early adults is highlighted.
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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
rejection, sensitivity, peer relationships
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