Emotional responses to interpersonal rejection.
A great deal of human emotion arises in response to real, anticipated, remembered, or imagined rejection by other people. Because acceptance by other people improved evolutionary fitness, human beings developed biopsychological mechanisms to apprise them of threats to acceptance and belonging, along with emotional systems to deal with threats to acceptance. This article examines seven emotions that often arise when people perceive that their relational value to other people is low or in potential jeopardy, including hurt feelings, jealousy, loneliness, shame, guilt, social anxiety, and embarrassment. Other emotions, such as sadness and anger, may occur during rejection episodes, but are reactions to features of the situation other than low relational value. The article discusses the evolutionary functions of rejection-related emotions, neuroscience evidence regarding the brain regions that mediate reactions to rejection, and behavioral research from social, developmental, and clinical psychology regarding psychological and behavioral concomitants of interpersonal rejection.
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