Written by Haley Adams
Why do individuals react to rejection in various ways, and why does it take longer for certain people to recover?
Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology, and Lauren Howe a PhD student at Stanford University, explored this line of research in a series of five studies, with 891 participants in total. Individuals were divided into two groups with different beliefs about the nature of personality, which included those who believed that their personality evolved over their lifetime (a growth- oriented view) and those who believed that their personality was set, or “static,” and would not change much over their lifetime (a fixed view). This distinction influenced the way that the participants reacted to a rejection from their significant other. Those with a fixed view regarded the rejection as a personal attack and allowed the negative emotions to linger longer in their lives than those with a growth-oriented view. Individuals with a fixed view saw their romantic partner as an important “source of information about the self” and believed that the rejection revealed something deeper about who they were as a person. Those with a growth-oriented view still felt the sting of rejection, but they were are better able to move forward and continue to improve their lives and relationships.
What does this mean for future relationships?
While those individuals who see personality as ever-changing were able to put rejection in their past and progress in new relationships, those who see personality as unchanging allowed the hurt of rejection to linger. Individuals with a fixed view were more likely to develop insecurities, which can lead to negative consequences in future romantic involvements. These negative consequences can include worrying that the reason for the original rejection will lead to rejection in future relationships, which can cause individuals to be closed off, guarded and defensive. The rejection changed their view of themselves, as well as their view of relationships in general. Dweck and Howe found that the fixed view group of people were still influenced by rejections that had occurred more than five years ago. Future research could explore suggestions for how those with a fixed view can learn to cope with rejection and leave it in the past. For more information on the study visit the following link http://news.stanford.edu/news/2016/january/self-definition-breakups-010716.html
Ultimately those with a growth-oriented view are able to bounce back from rejection and move onto future relationships and use the knowledge that was gained from the previous relationships. Those with a fixed view bring the hurt of rejection into future relationships and allow the rejection to negatively impact their lives and personality. Knowing the various responses to rejection can better enable people to move forward in their romantic lives and learn positive lessons from past relationships and rejections.
Dr. H. Colleen Sinclair
Social Psychologist, Relationships Researcher,
Ms. Chelsea Ellithorpe
Lab Manager of the Social Relations Collaborative and Blog Editor