Coping with Rejection Concerns in Romantic Relationships: An Experimental Investigation of Social Anxiety and Risk Regulation
Afram, A., & Kashdan, T. B. (2015). Coping with rejection concerns in romantic relationships: An experimental investigation of social anxiety and risk regulation. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 4, 151-156.
Social anxiety tends to be examined from an intrapersonal perspective. Only recently have researchers started to explore social anxiety in the context of close relationships. In the current study, we investigated whether people with greater social anxiety respond defensively when the threat of being rejected by one׳s romantic partner becomes salient. Confronted with possible rejection, we hypothesized that people with greater social anxiety would devalue their partners to minimize the impact of the rejection. Fifty one couples participated in a laboratory interaction with one member assigned to a rejection condition—led to believe that their partner was listing excessive negative characteristics about them; the other member was assigned to a neutral condition in which they received an innocuous filler task. Results revealed a positive association between social anxiety and rejection concerns that could not be attributed to depressive symptoms, rejection sensitivity, attachment styles, or trust. People with greater social anxiety coped with these concerns by devaluing romantic partners following the rejection condition; in the neutral condition, they adopted an overly positive/enhanced perception of partners. Our findings illustrate the defensive, risk management strategies used by people with greater social anxiety in aversive relational contexts.
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