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UBC Theses and Dissertations

How does rejection induce social anxiety? A test of hurt feelings as a mechanism. Fung, Klint


Research suggests that victims of negative social events such as bullying, criticism, and rejection develop the tendency to experience social anxiety. Two studies were conducted to examine hurt feelings as a potential mechanism underlying this relation. In Study 1, undergraduate participants were exposed to an artificial social situation in which they were either rejected (experimental condition) or included (control condition) by one group of peers, and exposed to a second situation with another group. Results showed that participants who were initially rejected reported higher anxiety before and during their second interaction and that this effect was fully mediated by hurt feelings from the initial interaction. In Study 2, all participants were initially rejected by one group of peers and were then exposed to a second situation with another group. Half of the participants were randomly assigned to ingest acetaminophen in order to alleviate rejection-induced hurt feelings, and half were assigned sugar placebo. The acetaminophen group reported lower anxiety before and during their second interaction, and approximately half of this effect could be attributed to hurt feelings reduction. In sum, results from both studies provided preliminary support for the hypothesis. Findings were discussed in the context of social pain literature and its potential clinical applications.

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