On being rejected: A meta-analysis of experimental research on rejection

Jonathan Gerber*, Ladd Wheeler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

229 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article presents the first meta-analysis of experimental research on rejection, sampling 88 studies. The results are consistent with a needs account, which states that rejection frustrates basic psychological needs, but not with a numbness account, which states that rejection causes physical and emotional numbness. Rejection moderately lowers mood (d = -0.50) and self-esteem (d = -0.70), but does not decrease arousal or flatten affect. Both belonging (d = 0.69) and control (d = 1.16) are frustrated by rejection. Aggressive responses to rejection, considered paradoxical by some, appear to be due to attempts to gain control; measures that contrast belonging and control (d = -1.17) cause antisocial responding, whereas measures that do not allow for control to be restored cause prosocial responding (d = 1.21). These findings suggest that rejection makes individuals feel bad-ready to act to restore control or belonging-and that they will prioritize restoring control even if it requires being antisocial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-488
Number of pages21
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Volume4
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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