Rejecting another pains the self: The impact of perceived future rejection

Zhansheng Chen, Kai Tak Poon, Michael J. Bernstein, Fei Teng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The current investigation examined whether people would experience a higher level of pain after rejecting another person, especially for those high in evaluative concern, through increased perceptions of future rejection. Three experiments provide converging support to these predictions. After reliving a past rejecting experience (Experiments 1 and 2) and concurrently rejecting another person (Experiment 3), the source of rejection experienced a higher level of pain than participants in the control conditions. We also found that evaluative concern, either primed (Experiment 2) or measured (Experiment 3) moderated the above effect, such that this effect was only observed among participants high in evaluative concern, but not among those low in evaluative concern. Moreover, perceived future rejection mediated the moderating effect of evaluative concern and rejecting another person on the levels of pain that people experience (Experiment 3). These findings contribute to the literature by showing a mechanism explaining why rejecting another person pains the self and who are more susceptible to this influence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-233
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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