Minimizing the Pain and Probability of Rejection Evidence for Relational Distancing and Proximity Seeking Within Face-to-Face Interactions

Published on Mar 1, 2015in Social Psychological and Personality Science
· DOI :10.1177/1948550614549384
Kristin L. Sommer15
Estimated H-index: 15
(CUNY: City University of New York),
Frank J. Bernieri29
Estimated H-index: 29
(OSU: Oregon State University)
Some studies have revealed evidence for proximity seeking following interpersonal rejection, whereas other studies have found evidence of relational distancing (Williams, 2007). This study examined whether both processes could occur simultaneously within face-to-face interactions. Participants were accepted or rejected by one person and then interacted with a new partner for the purposes of an impression-formation task. Conversations were recorded and transcribed. Dyads containing a previously rejected compared to accepted participant exhibited higher levels of linguistic style matching and reciprocated conversational content, suggestive of proximity seeking. However, rejected targets also rated their new partners as less kind and reported lower levels of rapport/liking for their partners, consistent with relational distancing. Partner evaluations were statistically mediated by targets’ expectations of rejection. We suggest that automatic proximity seeking and the appraisal-mediated devaluation of new par...
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