Date of Submission



Rejection sensitivity is defined as the tendency to 'anxiously expect, readily perceive, and overreact to rejection' (Downey, Feldman, Khuri, & Friedman, 1994, p. 496). It has been conceptualised as a cognitive-affective processing disposition that undermines adaptive functioning. The overall aim of the current research was to explore the rejection sensitivity dynamic and investigate its association with maladaptive intrapersonal and interpersonal outcomes. To address this aim, four studies, each of which used a cross-sectional design, were undertaken. Study one explored the relationship between rejection sensitivity and depressive symptoms, and specifically sought to examine the role of social anxiety and loneliness within this relationship. One hundred and ninety five participants completed questionnaires assessing rejection sensitivity, depression, loneliness, and social anxiety. Consistent with predictions, the results indicated that rejection sensitivity was related to depressive symptoms. The experience of loneliness and social anxiety was found to further explicate this relationship. The second study investigated how rejection sensitive individuals think about and relate to others. Two hundred and five participants were required to complete questionnaires assessing rejection sensitivity, adult attachment styles, and the personality dispositions of sociotropy and autonomy. It was found that rejection sensitivity was most closely associated with an anxious attachment style and intimacy seeking coping strategies within close relationships.

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


367 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Arts and Sciences