Social rejection occurs when an individual is deliberately excluded from a social relationship or social interaction. The topic includes both interpersonal rejection (or peer rejection) and romantic rejection. A person can be rejected on an individual basis or by an entire group of people. Furthermore, rejection can be either active, by bullying, teasing, or ridiculing, or passive, by ignoring a person, or giving the "silent treatment." The experience of being rejected is subjective for the recipient, and it can be perceived when it is not actually present.
Although humans are social beings, some level of rejection is an inevitable part of life. Nevertheless, rejection can become a problem when it is prolonged or consistent, when the relationship is important, or when the individual is highly sensitive to rejection. Rejection by an entire group of people can have especially negative effects, particularly when it results in social isolation.
The experience of rejection can lead to a number of adverse psychological consequences such as loneliness, low self-esteem, aggression, and depression. It can also lead to feelings of insecurity and a heightened sensitivity to future rejection.
Need for acceptance
Rejection is emotionally painful because of the social nature of human beings and our basic need to be accepted in groups. Abraham Maslow and other theorists have suggested that the need for love and belongingness is a fundamental human motivation. According to Maslow, all humans, even introverts, need to be able to give and receive affection to be psychologically healthy.
Psychologists believe that simple contact or social interaction with others is not enough to fulfill this need. Instead, people have a strong motivational drive to form and maintain caring interpersonal relationships. People need both stable relationships and satisfying interactions with the people in those relationships. If either of these two ingredients is missing, people will begin to feel lonely and unhappy. Thus, rejection is a significant threat. In fact, the majority of human anxieties appear to reflect concerns over social exclusion.
Being a member of a group is also important for social identity, which is a key component of the self-concept. Mark Leary of Wake Forest University has suggested that the main purpose of self-esteem is to monitor social relations and detect social rejection. In this view, self-esteem is a sociometer which activates negative emotions when signs of exclusion appear.
Social psychological research confirms the motivational basis of the need for acceptance. Specifically, fear of rejection leads to conformity to peer pressure (sometimes called normative influence), and compliance to the demands of others. Our need for affiliation and social interaction appears to be particularly strong when we are under stress.
- More information on this topic is available at [ Wikipedia:Social_rejection ]