The self-fulfilling prophecy in close relationships: rejection sensitivity and rejection by romantic partners

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1998 Aug;75(2):545-60. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.75.2.545.


The authors hypothesized a self-fulfilling prophecy wherein rejection expectancies lead people to behave in ways that elicit rejection from their dating partners. The hypothesis was tested in 2 studies of conflict in couples: (a) a longitudinal field study where couples provided daily-diary reports and (b) a lab study involving behavioral observations. Results from the field study showed that high rejection-sensitive (HRS) people's relationships were more likely to break up than those of low rejection-sensitive (LRS) people. Conflict processes that contribute to relationship erosion were revealed for HRS women but not for HRS men. Following naturally occurring relationship conflicts, HRS women's partners were more rejecting than were LRS women's partners. The lab study showed that HRS women's negative behavior during conflictual discussions helped explain their partners' more rejecting postconflict responses.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition*
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Love*
  • Male
  • Rejection, Psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires