Date on Honors Thesis

Spring 5-2024


Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Applied Behavior Analysis


Creative Writing

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Jana Hackathorn, Advisor

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Daniel Wann, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Sean Rife, Committee Member


Social rejection has been defined as any instance in which an individual is excluded socially or fails to maintain a social relationship (Jiang & Ngai, 2020). To describe the tendency to worry about, anticipate, and overreact to social rejection, the term rejection sensitive was coined (Feldman & Downey, 1994). The present study was specifically interested in rejection sensitivity and its various influences on behavior and self-esteem, especially in an instance of receiving rejection from a person of academic authority (i.e., a professor). The study was also interested in identifying recurring personality traits in rejection-sensitive individuals. After completing an online pre-test survey, in which they filled out measures related to rejection sensitivity, self-esteem, perceptions of authority, and various personality traits, participants were invited to participate in an in-person survey. During this in-person study, the participants were reprimanded by a researcher posing as a professor. Their present emotional state and self-esteem were then measured in a brief post-test survey. A series of correlational analyses found a negative relationship between rejection sensitivity and global self-esteem. A positive relationship between rejection sensitivity and social anxiety was also found, as well as between rejection sensitivity and public self-consciousness. Additionally, a series of simple linear regressions indicated that rejection sensitivity was a significant predictor of emotional affect in post-test participants. Finally, we conducted a series of moderated regressions, in which sensitivity to rejection was the predictor, and attitude toward professors was the moderator, to predict feelings of depression and overall negative emotional affect in the post-test. These regressions indicated attitude toward professors to have a significant moderation effect in both instances.