Title

Rejection sensitivity and interpersonal relationship difficulties: Depression, loneliness, and self-esteem as mediating factors

Date of Completion

January 2009

Keywords

Psychology, Social|Psychology, Clinical|Psychology, Personality|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

This longitudinal study examined three mechanisms by which rejection sensitivity contributes to interpersonal relationship difficulties among a sample of 371 adolescents (8th-9th graders). Assessments of rejection sensitivity, self-esteem, mother-adolescent conflict, father-adolescent conflict, best friend conflict, and romantic relationship conflict were collected during the Spring of 8th grade and the Spring of 9th grade via self-report. Assessments of depressive affect and loneliness were collected at three time points, during the Spring of 8th grade, the Fall of 9th grade, and the Spring of 9th grade. Controlling for initial levels of self-esteem and relationship conflict, self-esteem mediated the relation between rejection sensitivity and mother-adolescent difficulties, father-adolescent difficulties, and conflict in best friendships. In addition, controlling for initial levels of depressive symptoms and relationship conflict, depressive symptoms mediated the relation between rejection sensitivity and conflict in both mother- and father-adolescent interactions, but only for boys. The current findings are among the first to demonstrate two mechanisms by which rejection sensitivity contributes to interpersonal relationship difficulties and highlight a need to further investigate the impact of rejection sensitivity on parent-adolescent relationship difficulties. Implications for prevention and intervention are discussed. ^