Rejection sensitivity and daily rumination to interpersonal and noninterpersonal stressors

Riley, Kristen
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University of Delaware
When stressful events occur, some individuals tend to ruminate, to think negatively and passively about the stressor or their own negative feelings (Smith & Alloy, 2009). In a college student population, interpersonal stressors are reported frequently and are among the most stressful (Ross, 1999). Therefore, we hypothesized that college students will ruminate more to daily interpersonal stressors than to daily noninterpersonal stressors. All individuals desire social acceptance, but some are more reactive to interpersonal rejection, a trait labeled rejection sensitivity (Downey & Feldman, 1996). We hypothesized that rejection sensitivity will be positively related to rumination to daily interpersonal (but not noninterpersonal) stressors. We measured rejection sensitivity using an initial online survey, and we measured rumination to daily stressors using an online 7-day diary survey that assessed the occurrence of daily stressors and rumination to the day’s most stressful event. The results showed that students did not ruminate more to interpersonal compared to noninterpersonal stressors. The results also showed that rejection sensitivity was positively related to rumination to both interpersonal and noninterpersonal stressors. Although our hypotheses were not supported, the study suggests the value of a daily diary methodology for future research on rumination.