Deconstructing the "reign of error": interpersonal warmth explains the self-fulfilling prophecy of anticipated acceptance

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2009 Sep;35(9):1165-78. doi: 10.1177/0146167209338629. Epub 2009 Jul 1.


People's expectations of acceptance often come to create the acceptance or rejection they anticipate. The authors tested the hypothesis that interpersonal warmth is the behavioral key to this acceptance prophecy: If people expect acceptance, they will behave warmly, which in turn will lead other people to accept them; if they expect rejection, they will behave coldly, which will lead to less acceptance. A correlational study and an experiment supported this model. Study 1 confirmed that participants' warm and friendly behavior was a robust mediator of the acceptance prophecy compared to four plausible alternative explanations. Study 2 demonstrated that situational cues that reduced the risk of rejection also increased socially pessimistic participants' warmth and thus improved their social outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Affect*
  • Assertiveness
  • Character
  • Culture*
  • Defense Mechanisms
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Personal Construct Theory
  • Rejection, Psychology*
  • Self Concept*
  • Set, Psychology*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Desirability*
  • Young Adult