Mothers’ rejection sensitivity and their information processing of possible social rejection of their child

Noga Harel-Zeira, Nurit Gur-Yaish, Efrat Sher-Censor, Hadas Shiff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Parents often guide the interactions of their young children with their peers. Identifying factors that may shape parents’ behaviors in such situations is thus important. The objective of this study was to investigate whether maternal rejection sensitivity (RS) would be related to mothers’ responses to challenges in their children’s peer interactions. Specifically, we examined whether mothers’ RS would be associated with their information processing of hypothetical events that may suggest rejection of their child by her/his peers. Two hundred nineteen mothers of preschool- and kindergarten-aged children completed an online survey. To assess RS, mothers completed the Adult Rejection Sensitivity Questionnaire. Mothers were also presented with five ambiguous common scenarios that could be interpreted as peer rejection of their child. Mothers were asked about their attributions, emotions, and likely behavioral responses regarding each scenario. Maternal RS was associated with more attributions of intentional rejection of the child, more negative emotions, and more behavioral responses of avoidance and overinvolvement. Furthermore, the associations between mothers’ RS and maternal responses of avoidance and overinvolvement were sequentially mediated by maternal attribution of intentional rejection followed by negative emotions. The study thus extends RS research to the context of parenting and suggests that practitioners working with families of young children should consider parents’ RS disposition, as it might affect parents’ responses to their children’s peer interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1939-1953
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by Oranim Academic College of Education Research Grant.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • Parenting
  • peer rejection
  • rejection sensitivity
  • social information processing
  • social relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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