UC Berkeley Institute of Personality and Social Research

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Softening the Sting Of Rejection

Rejection hurts - not only emotionally, but, as research has demonstrated, on a physical level as well. However, sometimes rejection doesn’t actually sting that badly.  A recent article by Drs. Maya Kuehn (recent Berkeley PhD graduate), Serena Chen (current faculty member), and Amie Gordon (former Berkeley PhD student and postdoctoral scholar) sheds light on one of these factors that helps soften the sting of rejection:  namely, being in a position of social power. The studies, published this past summer in the journal Social Psychological & Personality Science, demonstrate that feeling high in power helps attenuate the emotional pain of being rejected by others. Given the importance of social belonging for psychological wellbeing, these findings provide key insights into future areas of research for attenuating the negative effects of rejection and for furthering research on the widespread psychological and societal impacts of power.