Sociotropic differentiation: Differential anticipatory reactions to rejection by close versus distal others predict well-being
This study introduces the construct of sociotropic differentiation - the figurative array of people whose acceptance and rejection matter to a person - and examines whether differences in sociotropic differentiation predict social and emotional well-being during the transition to college. A total of 104 freshmen (40% men) participated in a two-wave study with assessments at the beginning and end of the first semester at college. Sociotropic differentiation was operationalized by the relative tendency to be upset by rejection by close others, acquaintances, and distal others. Results indicated that being upset when rejected by close others predicted better well-being (i.e., higher perceived belonging, fewer aggressive urges, and lower depressive symptoms), whereas being upset when rejected by distal others predicted poorer well-being (i.e., lower perceived belonging, more time spent alone, more aggressive urges, more depressive symptoms, and lower positive affect). Moreover, similar reactions to rejection by close and distal others predicted decreased belonging and increased hostility over time. Together, findings suggest that people who differentiate close from distal relationships fare better in new social environments. Implications of the findings and suggestions for future studies are outlined. © 2014.
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