Sensitivity to status-based rejection: implications for African American students' college experience

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2002 Oct;83(4):896-918. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.83.4.896.


The authors proposed a process model whereby experiences of rejection based on membership in a devalued group can lead people to anxiously expect, readily perceive, and intensely react to status-based rejection. To test the model, the authors focused on race-based rejection sensitivity (RS-race) among African Americans. Following the development and validation of the RS-Race Questionnaire (Studies 1 and 2), the authors tested the utility of the model for understanding African American students' experiences at a predominantly White university (Study 3). Students high in RS-race experienced greater discomfort during the college transition, less trust in the university, and relative declines in grades over a 2- to 3-year period. Positive race-related experiences, however, increased feelings of belonging at the institution among students high in RS-race.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Prejudice*
  • Psychological Tests*
  • Rejection, Psychology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States