The causes, phenomenology, and consequences of hurt feelings

Mark R. Leary, Carrie Springer, Laura Negel, Emily Ansell, Kelly Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

356 Scopus citations


One hundred sixty-four participants recounted situations in which their feelings had been hurt (victim accounts) or in which they had hurt another person's feelings (perpetrator accounts) and then completed a questionnaire. Hurt feelings were precipitated by events that connoted relational devaluation, and the victims' distress correlated strongly with feelings of rejection. Victims were typically hurt by people whom they knew well, suggesting that familiarity or closeness played a role. Analyses of the subjective experience revealed that hurt feelings are characterized by undifferentiated negative affect that is often accompanied by emotions such as anxiety and hostility. Victims' responses to the event were related to their attributions for the perpetrators' actions, and hurtful episodes typically had negative repercussions for the relationships between perpetrators and victims.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1225-1237
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The causes, phenomenology, and consequences of hurt feelings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this