Experiencing vicarious rejection in the wake of the 2016 presidential election

Heather M. Claypool, Alejandro Trujillo, Michael J. Bernstein, Steven Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Presidential elections in the United States pit two (or more) candidates against each other. Voters elect one and reject the others. This work tested the hypothesis that supporters of a losing presidential candidate may experience that defeat as a personal rejection. Before and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, voters reported their current feelings of rejection and social pain, along with potential predictors of these feelings. Relative to Trump supporters, Clinton (losing candidate) supporters reported greater feelings of rejection, lower mood, and reduced fundamental needs post-election, while controlling for pre-election levels of these variables. Moreover, as self–candidate closeness and liberal political orientation increased, so too did feelings of rejection and social pain among Clinton supporters. We discuss the implications of these results for understanding human sensitivity to belonging threats and for the vicarious rejection literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-194
Number of pages16
JournalGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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