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Social Rejection Sensitivity and its Role in Adolescent Emotional Disorder Symptomatology

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Peer-reviewed

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Article

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Authors

Minihan, Savannah 
Kwok, Cassandra 
Rogan-Schweizer, Susanne  ORCID logo  https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6153-8291

Abstract

Background: Most emotional disorders first emerge during adolescence, a time characterized by heightened sensitivity to social information, especially social rejection. Social rejection sensitivity (SRS), then, may be a promising intervention target. Methods: To explore this, 357 participants (M (SD) age = 19.40 (4.18), 63% female) completed self-report measures of SRS, its proposed antecedent, perceived parenting style, its proposed behavioral correlate, negative interpretation bias, and its proposed outcome, emotional disorder symptoms. Participants additionally completed a single session of a social interpretation bias modification task, the ambiguous social scenarios task (ASST). Results: SRS was associated with perceived parental rejection, while controlling for other types of maladaptive parenting. SRS partially accounted for variance in the relationship between perceived parental rejection and emotional disorder symptomatology, as well as the relationship between negative interpretation bias and emotional disorder symptoms. Learning rates (i.e., change in reaction time across the task) on the ASST differed as a function of age and SRS, such that younger participants with higher SRS showed the slowest rate of learning. Moreover, individual differences in SRS accounted for the magnitude of change in negative interpretation bias before and after the ASST. Individuals with greater SRS showed less change in interpretation bias. Conclusions: SRS appears strongly associated with emotional disorder symptoms in adolescents. Importantly, SRS was associated with the malleability of negative interpretation bias, which may help account for the mixed findings on the effectiveness of interpretation-bias-modification-paradigms in adolescents.

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Journal Title

Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health

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Journal ISSN

1753-2000

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Publisher

BioMed Central
Sponsorship
Wellcome Trust (209127/A/17/Z)
Jacobs Foundation; National
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