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Past perspective is related to present relationships: past-positive and negative time perspectives differentially predict rejection sensitivity.

Social rejection is a fundamental aspect of human interactions. Williams (2001) estimated that over a course of a lifetime, the average person experiences thousands of instances of social exclusion. Although rejection and one's responses to it play an important role in the success of interpersonal relationships, certain dispositional variables are also important. One personality factor relevant to successful relationships is the extent to which one has rejection sensitivity (RS). Individuals high in RS see rejection everywhere; these individuals "anxiously expect, readily perceive, and overreact to rejection" (Downey & Feldman, 1996, p. 1327). Rejection sensitivity thus has serious, often deleterious implications for interpersonal relationships.

Although research has suggested that rejection causes aggression (for review, see Williams, 2007), recent work shows that high RS individuals may be responsible for the aggressive acts following social exclusion (Ayduk, Gyurak, & Luerssen, 2008). This aggressive responding has negative impacts on relationships. In a diary study conducted by Ayduk, Downey, Testa, Yen, and Shoda (1999), women who had high RS were more likely to get into fights with their partners on days following those on which they reported feeling highly rejected; and in situations that elicited concerns about perceptions of rejection, women who had high RS displayed more angry verbal and nonverbal behaviors (Downey, Freitas, Michaelis, & Khouri, 1998).

The negative consequences of high RS do not stop at aggressive responses. Downey and Feldman (1996) found that individuals who are high in RS may perceive ambiguous situations as rejections, while individuals who are low in RS perceive the same situation with greater neutrality. This tendency to see intentional rejection in ambiguous situations can have devastating consequences for relationships, and when those relationships end, individuals who are high in RS often experience increased depression compared to those low in rejection sensitivity (Ayduk, Downey, & Kim, 2001). To avoid such dissolution of relationships, individuals who are high in RS make more sacrifices (Impett, Gable, & Peplau, 2005), suppress personal desires to avoid conflicts with their partners (Ayduk, May, Downey, & Higgins, 2003), perform tasks to gain or maintain acceptance that others do not wish to do (Romero-Canyas et al., 2010), and engage in behaviors they know are wrong to maintain their relationships (Purdie & Downey, 2000).

Rejection sensitivity is integral in predicting relationship difficulties, and it is thus no surprise that research has examined its antecedents. Feldman and Downey (1994) conducted a study to investigate the relationship that early childhood parental rejection had on rejection sensitivity and then examined whether rejection sensitivity mediated the relationship between parental rejection (e.g., parental violence) and interpersonal difficulty later in life (i.e., insecure attachment style). They found that reported exposure to parental violence in childhood predicted later increased RS as well as increased insecure attachment style. Furthermore, participants' later rejection sensitivity mediated the relationship between their recalled parental violence and their insecure attachment. Much research indicates that experiences of childhood rejection, which may affect rejection sensitivity, can also affect attachment style (Bowlby, 1969), and such experiences strongly predict adult attachment (e.g., Hazan & Shaver, 1987). Furthermore, many of the behavioral outcomes of adults that are related to attachment are similar to those experienced by rejection-sensitive individuals. Given the overlap between rejection sensitivity and various insecure attachment styles (see Feldman & Downey, 1994), this further emphasizes prior work showing that RS likely develops as a result of early childhood rejections; individuals may internalize such experiences, resulting in future rejection sensitivity. Other research makes similar suggestions (e.g., Butler, Doherty, & Potter, 2007), and some work has examined actual childhood and adolescent rejections and how they predict RS, rather than relying only on recalled experiences (McLachlan, Zimmer-Gembeck, & McGregor, 2010).

Although such early childhood events have an effect on the current self, past events alone may not entirely explain rejection sensitivity. How individuals perceive their past may have important effects on a host of behaviors. The perception of time may play an important role in how individuals think about their current relationships. Researchers have asserted that perception of time is extremely important to individuals, likely evolving during early development (Suddendorf & Corballis, 1997). Lewin (1951) defined time perspective (TP) as the "totality of the individual's views of his psychological future and psychological past existing at a given time" (p. 75). Given the evidence described below, we believe that two of these TPs may be particularly important to predicting rejection sensitivity.

Zimbardo and Boyd (1999) conducted extensive research to quantify and examine TP and its relationship with other dispositional factors and behaviors. They suggest that TP is a nonconscious process through which experiences are assigned to temporal categories that help give coherence and meaning to events within those categories. They are instrumental in the encoding and retrieval of memories and play an important role in forming schemas and developing motivations and goals. Whether an event is framed in terms of the past, present, or future has important implications for the way one thinks, feels, and behaves with respect to the event (e.g., going out on a Friday night seems like an excellent decision if one is biased in the present, but it may seem like a poor decision if one is future oriented and recalls that final exams are only weeks away).

Researchers have asserted that although a single event can be construed using any TP, people often develop a tendency to rely on certain perspectives with more or less frequency. When one perspective is "overemphasized" (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999, p. 1272), this chronic bias eventually becomes a stable personality trait (nonetheless, TPs may be susceptible to situational factors; e.g., it is possible to have a past perspective but consider a particular event with a future orientation). Situational factors including one's education, religion, social status, family modeling, social norms, and culture can influence which perspectives become chronic. Thus, while early childhood experiences influence one's TP, it (a) is influenced not only by interpersonal interactions but also by group level and societal norms and (b) can be strongly influenced by situations after childhood, including the social norms among those with whom individuals associate.

Through the development of the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (ZTPI; Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999), five different TPs were established (i.e., past negative, past positive, present hedonic, present fatalistic, and future). These have important effects on a host of serious behaviors, including risky driving (Zimbardo, Keough, & Boyd, 1997), smoking, drinking, and drug use (Keough, Zimbardo, & Boyd, 1999), and risk of contracting HIV (Rothspan & Read, 1996). They also affect more routine behaviors, such as choosing to participate in psychological studies (Harber, Zimbardo, & Boyd, 2003). The measure has been validated in multiple studies across various cultures (D'Alessio, Guarino, De Pascalis, & Zimbardo, 2003; Milfont, Andrade, & Belo, 2008; Worrell & Zeno, 2007).

According to Zimbardo and Boyd (1999), a present-hedonistic TP describes a hedonistic and risk-taking attitude toward life and time, focusing on pleasure and enjoyment, and is found to correlate positively with sensation seeking and negatively with impulse control and preference for consistency. Present-fatalistic TP implies a view that one's life as predetermined and individual actions have no effect on fate. It positively correlates with depression and anxiety and negatively correlates with concern for future consequences. Future orientation describes a tendency to think of time with respect to future goals and achievements and is related to low aggression, risk taking, and impulsivity while positively correlating with conscientiousness, preference for consistency, and concern for future consequences.

Although these three TPs are interesting in their own right, the past-negative and past-positive TPs seem particularly appropriate to the question surrounding the prediction of rejection sensitivity. Zimbardo and Boyd (1999) found that some individuals have a predisposition to seeing the past negatively (i.e., past-negative TP, or PNTP). They tend to recall the past as being difficult and aversive in both social and nonsocial domains. Researchers found that individuals with a PNTP tended to have minimal interpersonal relationships that were often dissatisfying. These individuals reported having few friends, and when asked whether people, experiences, or both were most involved in significant life events, individuals high in PNTP often reported focusing on "people," perhaps indicating an attentional focus on others. These individuals also reported more depression, anxiety, unhappiness, and lower self-esteem.

Quite contrary were the results of individuals high in past-positive TP (PPTP). Individuals high in PPTP recalled the past with fondness and nostalgia. They generally recall past events (both social and nonsocial) in a positive way. Even if experiences were negative, they tend to recall them in a reasonably positive light, and while they can remember past events with negativity, generally they see their past positively. With respect to their social interactions, they reported having many friends and were often involved in romantic relationships. They were low in depression and anxiety and high in self-esteem and happiness. They also spent more time engaging or thinking about family experiences (e.g., family traditions). This was in stark contrast to those high in PNTP, who were less likely to report practicing family traditions or going to family events (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999).

Zimbardo and Boyd (1999) also found a strong relationship between higher PNTP and increased aggression, while the opposite was true for individuals high in PPTP. Furthermore, they reported that individuals high in PNTP reported more conflict with their relationship partners following experiences of stress.

These findings appear similar to those related to RS and suggest a possible link. That PNTP leads to more aggression and conflict following stressful experiences clearly resembles the relationship between RS and aggression (Ayduk et al., 2008) as well as work indicating increased relationship conflicts on the days following perceived rejections (Ayduk et al., 1999). Furthermore, given the importance of recollected memories on predicting RS, it seems reasonable that a general tendency for orienting toward the past (either positively or negatively) might also predict RS. Moving beyond the fallibility of recollected memories (e.g., a childhood rejection), TP as conceptualized by Lewin (1951) and by Zimbardo and Boyd (1999) inherently assumes some degree of variation based on the "given time" in which individuals consider their TP. Thus, rather than being based on how reality was, TP is concerned only with how one currently orients toward that time. Furthermore, whereas prior work has examined how past social rejections have related to whether one is currently rejection sensitive, using the framework of TP, it is possible that the general positive or negative perception of individuals' past might predict rejection sensitivity, regardless of their specific memories (accurate or not) of childhood events.

In other words, RS is shaped by actual past events and memory of events, but TP operates somewhat independent of those two things. For example, a person either does or does not remember a traumatic sports injury (i.e., an actual event), but life experiences since the event (e.g., the decision to join a religious organization, discrimination based on physical handicap) can shape how most past events, including the one in question, will be categorized and recalled. In the context of social exclusion, individuals could experience severe and chronic exclusion growing up (i.e., the actual event) but still interpret the past in a positive light that grows out of having a currently successful career and family life. For these reasons, TP may offer an important new approach to the relationship between one's perception of the past and his or her current RS.

In Study 1, we examined the untested relationship between TP and RS. We hypothesized that PNTP would predict increased rejection sensitivity while the reverse would be true for those with a PPTP orientation. We believed this would be true even after accounting for demographic and personality variables that may affect RS. Because prior research has focused on past events predicting RS, we do not expect the other TPs (i.e., present fatalistic, present hedonic, and future) to be significant predictors, but because of the exploratory nature of the research, we included them.

Study 1 Method


Two hundred thirty-seven (157 females) undergraduates participated in exchange for partial credit toward a research requirement. Participants were 20 years old on average (SD = 2.60) and were racially diverse (54.4% White, 13.9% Asian, 12.7% Black, 10.1% Hispanic, 8.9% Other).


Zimbardo's Time Perspective Inventory (ZTPI; Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999) was created to measure an individual's perception of time based on past, present, and future events, outcomes, or goals. The ZTPI consists of 56 items measured on a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from very untrue to very true of the participant. The five subscales--Past Negative (10 items; [alpha] = .82 (1)), Past Positive (9 items; [alpha] = .80), Present Hedonic (15 items; [alpha] = .79), Present Fatalistic (9 items; [alpha] = .74), and Future (13 items; [alpha] = .77) orientation--are calculated by averaging the item scores. Example items include "Familiar childhood sights, sounds, smells often bring back a flood of wonderful memories" (Past Positive); "Fate determines much of my life" (Present Fatalistic); "When I want to achieve something, I set goals and consider specific means for reaching those goals" (Future); "Ideally, I would live each day as if it were my last" (Present Hedonic); and "The past has too many unpleasant memories that I prefer not to think about" (Past Negative).

The Rejection Sensitivity Questionnaire (RSQ; Downey & Feldman, 1996) measures an individual's readiness to expect, perceive, and react to social rejection from others. This single scale ([alpha] = .81) consists of 18 items, each describing a possible scenario and asking individuals how concerned or anxious they would be about being rejected and how likely rejection would be. All questions are assessed using a 6-point range from very unconcerned/unlikely to very concerned/likely and have been shown to relate to a number of theoretically consistent rejection outcomes (e.g., Ayduk et al., 1999; Ayduk et al., 2003).

A 50-item measure of the Big Five personality traits was adopted from the International Personality Item Pool (Goldberg et al., 2006). Scores for all five factors--Openness ([alpha] = .84), Conscientiousness (alpha] = .79), Extraversion ([alpha] = .87), Agreeableness ([alpha] = .82), and Emotional Stability ([alpha] = .86)--were calculated by summing the score for the 10 items representing each factor.


The study was conducted online. Participants were given the three questionnaires (ZTPI, RSQ, and Big Five) along with a demographic questionnaire and other questionnaires not relevant to the current research. Upon completion of the survey, participants were thanked for their time and debriefed.

Results and Discussion

The hypothesized relationship between ZTPI and RS was tested using a single hierarchical regression. Demographic factors (age, sex, and race) were entered into Block 1, Big Five personality traits were added in Block 2, and all five ZTPI subscales were included in Block 3 (see Table 1 for final model). We included demographic variables because these are standard control variables and have been shown to relate to both RS and TP (e.g., see Downey & Feldman, 1996; Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999). We included the Big Five for the same reasons based on the same previous research; in short, because these variables are known to relate to both our primary predictor and outcome variables, we thought it best to control for them in our model. (2)
Table 1 Study 1 Summary of Rejection Sensitivity Regressed Upon
Demographics, Big 5, and ZTPI

                                     [beta]      SE          [beta]
                           (unstandardized)  [beta]  (standardized)

Block   Sex                            .207    .695            .021

(full   Age                           -.152    .113           -.087

        Black                          1.05    .865            .077

        Hispanic                    -2.33 *    .968         -.154 *

        Asian                        1.95 *    .888          .146 *

        Other                         -.059    1.12           -.003

        Extraverston                - 972 *    .436         -.161 *

        Agreeableness                  .406    .548            .054

        Conscientiousness             -.406    .544           -.061

        Emotional                     -.233    .425           -.042

        Openness                       .579    .582            .078

        Past Negative          .800 [double    .453    .129 [double
                                    dagger]                 dagger]

        Past Positive              -1.35 **    .464        -.202 **

        Present Hedonic               -.457    .566           -.058

        Present                        .403    .542            .056

        Future                        -.663    .568           -.092

[double dagger] p = .079, * p < .05. ** p < .01.

The demographic variables of age and race entered into Block 1 were significant predictors of RS, F (6, 222) = 3.23, p = .005, [R.sup.2] = .080. As age increased, RS decreased ([beta] = -.13, p = .05). Sex was unrelated to rejection sensitivity (p > .93), as was being Black (p > .39), while being Asian ([beta] = .17, p = .013) resulted in more RS, and being Hispanic ([beta] = -.14, p = .031) led to less.

Similarly, the Big Five personality variables entered in Block 2 also predicted significant amounts of new variance, [DELTA][R.sup.2] = .072, [F.sub.change](5, 217) = 3.67, p = .003; greater extroversion ([beta] = -.204, p = .003) resulted in less rejection sensitivity. All other factors were unrelated to rejection sensitivity, however (all ps > .10).

Block 3 included the primary predictors for this study: The five ZTPI subscales related to individual TP. It was hypothesized that the two past-oriented perspectives (i.e., PNTP and PPTP) would predict RS, with past-negative orientations increasing sensitivity and past-positive perspectives decreasing sensitivity. This hypothesis was largely supported.

Specifically, the ZTPI subscales accounted for significantly more variance than was found in the previous two blocks, [DELTA][R.sup.2] = .073 [F.sub.change] (5, 212) = 4.01, p = .002, [ sup.2] = .23. While both present TPs and the future time orientation were nonsignificant predictors of RS, the past orientations were significant in the hypothesized directions; PPTP was related to lower levels of rejection sensitivity ([beta] = -.20, p = .004) while PNTP was marginally related to increased rejection sensitivity ([beta] = .13, p = .079). In other words, how someone conceptualizes past experiences as either positive or negative predicts how much he or she will anticipate and react to social exclusion.

Though these results support our hypothesis that past TPs can predict RS, there is a limitation. Because we did not measure early childhood rejection experiences, we do not know if past TPs are in fact predicting RS or if actual experiences completely account for the relationship between past TP and RS. In Study 2, we sought to account for this limitation. We hypothesized that, just as in Study 1, PNTP should positively predict one's RS while PPTP should negatively predict it. We hypothesize this should be true even after accounting for the variables in Study 1 as well as the extent to which individuals recalled experiencing early childhood rejections (of which more such experiences should predict higher RS). In Study 2, we also used a different sample of participants to show that our effect generalizes beyond the college-aged population examined in Study 1.

Study 2 Method


Seventy-eight (48 females) individuals participated in an online survey via Mechanical Turk (e.g., Brown, Diekman, & Schneider, 2011; see Buhrmester, Kwang, & Gosling, 2011, for a review) in exchange for $.25 (payment is consistent with other studies on Mechanical Turk and via other published studies; e.g., Paolacci, Chandler, & Ipeirotis, 2010; Suri & Watts, 2011). Because participants were recruited through an online Web site and thus were not college students, participants were older than in Study 1 ([M.sub.age] = 35.12, [SD.sub.age] = 14.28) but had similar racial diversity (70.5% White, 11.5% Asian, 7.7% Black, 5.1% Latino, 5.2% Other).


The ZTPI was used as in Study 1. We replaced the Big Five measure used in Study 1 with a more established measure in Study 2. We included this measure to ensure that our effects could generalize across other measures of the Big Five; given the prominence of the Big Five in personality research, we thought it wise to use a measure more commonly used in the literature. We used a 54-item measure of the Big Five (John & Srivastava, 1999). Scores for Openness ([alpha] = .89), Conscientiousness ([alpha] = .87), Extraversion ([alpha] = .82), Agreeableness ([alpha] = .86), and Emotional Stability ([alpha] = .91) were calculated by summing the scores for each factor.

Because of the somewhat older population being sampled and to show generalizability, we used the Adult Rejection Sensitivity Questionnaire (ARSQ; Downey, Berenson, & Kang, 2006). The scale contains nine scenarios focusing less on college situations ([alpha] = .80) but is otherwise designed and scored the same as the RSQ from Study 1.

To measure early childhood rejections, we used several measures previously used in the literature. We first included a four-item, 5-point Likert-type measure of childhood acceptance (e.g., "I usually found it easy to make new friends," Butler et al., 2007). The items were averaged such that higher numbers meant more acceptance and less rejection ([alpha] = .89).

We next included a retrospective version of the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS; Zimet, Dahlem, Zimet, & Farley, 1998) that measures perceived social support in early childhood. This too has been used previously in studies examining individuals' sensitivity to interpersonal rejection (see Butler et al., 2007). An example item included "I got the emotional help and support I needed from my family." Items were assessed on a 7-point Likert-type scale and averaged with higher numbers indicating greater social support ([alpha] = .94).

We also included the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS; Straus, 1979). Prior work has shown that exposure to early childhood parental rejection, as measured by frequency and severity of parental violence, predicted RS and attachment issues in adulthood (see Feldman & Downey, 1994). We included the nine items assessing the frequency with which participants were exposed during childhood to violence between their parents (Marital Violence) and directed at themselves from a parent (Parental Violence). Participants rated each violent behavior on a 7-point scale (0 = never, 6 = weekly) for both Marital and Parental Violence. Separate Marital and Parental Violence Frequency scores were calculated by summing the scores for each of the nine behaviors. Severity was coded by taking the most severe behavior and assigning a score for that behavior to that participant, separately for each Marital and Parental violence (2 = severe violence, 1 = mild violence, 0 = none). Thus, observing one parent strike another but never experiencing violence directed at oneself would result in a Marital Violence Severity score of 1 and a Parental Violence Severity score of 0.

Finally, we developed a 6-item scale measuring childhood rejection experiences. Example items included "I was bullied" and "I was rarely teased." The items were scored on a 5-point scale and averaged with higher numbers, meaning more rejection experiences ([alpha] = .88).


The study was conducted online via Mechanical Turk. Participants completed the aforementioned questionnaires along with a demographic questionnaire. Upon completion, participants were thanked for their time and debriefed.


The hypothesized relationship was tested using a single hierarchical regression. Demographic factors (age, sex, and race) were entered into Block 1, Big Five personality traits were added in Block 2, Early Childhood Rejection factors in Block 3, and all five ZTPI subscales were included in Block 4 (see Table 2 for Blocks 3 and 4).
Table 2 Study 2 Summary of Rejection Sensitivity Regressed Upon
Demographics, Big 5, Early Childhood Rejection measures, and ZTPI

                                     [beta]      SE          [beta]
                           (unstandardized)  [beta]  (standardized)

Block  Sex                             .995    .929           0.112

       Age                             .051    .034           0.168

       Black                          -1.41    1.64          -0.086

       Pacific Islander                7.20    3.69           0.187

       More than One                  -3.82    2.63          -0.139

       Asian                           .694    1.41           0.051

       Other                           1.10    2.06           0.056

       Extraversion                    .083    .087           0.126

       Agreeableness                  -.050    .085          -0.075

       Conscientiousness              -.061    .086          -0.092

       Emotional                    -.175 *    .078        -0.336 *

       Openness                       -.072    .044           0.018

       Peer Acceptance              -1.44 *    .681        -0.380 *

       Peer Rejection                1.54 *    .727         0.333 *

       MSPSS                       -1.19 **    .413       -0.353 **

       Marital Violence               -.104    .075          -0.270

       Parental Violence              -.025    .062          -0.070

       Marital Violence              1.56 *    .782         0.324 *

       Parental Violence              -.110    .650          -0.023

Block  Sex                             1.12    .878            .125

       Age                             .047    .035            .153

       Black                          -2.49    1.65           -.153

       Pacific Islander              8.64 *    3.61          .224 *

       More than One                  -4.52    2.50           -.165

       Asian                           .460    1.39            .034

       Other                           .760    2.01            .039

       Extraversion                    .147    .087            .221

       Agreeableness                  -.010    .083          -0.015

       Conscientiousness              -.157    .119          -0.235

       Emotional                       .018    .099           0.034

       Openness                       -.086    .046          -0.215

       Peer Acceptance                -1.07    .654           -.281

       Peer Rejection                  1.22    .702            .263

       MSPSS                          -.593    .480           -.176

       Marital Violence               -.185    .075           -.478

       Parental Violence               .030    .062            .082

       Marital Violence                1.45    .789            .301

       Parental Violence               .114    .635            .024

       Past Negative                 2.82 *    1.10          .490 *

       Past Positive                -1.86 *    .920         -.293 *

       Present Hedonic                -.798    .952           -.110

       Present Fatalistic             -1.14    .863           -.180

       Future                         -.047    1 32           -.006

* P <.0.05, ** P < .0.1.

The demographic variables entered into Block 1 failed to predict RS, F (7, 70) = .45, p> .87, [R.sup.2] = 0.43. (3) In Block 2, the Big Five personality variables predicted significant amounts of new variance, [DELTA][R.sup.2] = .305, [F.sub.change] (5, 65) = 6.08, p < .001. Higher scores on Emotional Stability ([beta] = -.458, p = .003) were related to lower RS; the other factors were nonsignificant predictors.

Block 3 included measures of early childhood rejections. We included the composite MSPSS, the Peer Acceptance and Peer Rejection scales, and the four CTS measures of Parental/Marital Violence Frequency and Parental/Marital Violence Severity. As hypothesized, these variables accounted for significant amounts of new variance, [DELTA][R.sup.2] = .159, [F.sub.change] (7, 58) = 2.67, p = .018. In this step, higher scores on the Peer Acceptance scale ([beta] = -.380) and MSPSS (i.e., indicating greater social support and acceptance, ([beta] = -.353) related to lower RS, while higher scores on the Peer Rejection scale ([beta] = .333) and greater exposure to Marital Violence Severity ([beta] = .324) meant greater RS. The Parental Violence Severity and the two measures of frequency did not predict RS (ps > .17).

Finally, when adding the ZTPI subscales to the model, they also explained significant variance, [DELTA][R.sup.2] = .10, [F.sub.change] (5, 53) = 2.69, p = .031, [ sup.2.] = .607. As in Study 1, the two present and the future TPs were nonsignificant predictors of RS (ps > .19). Supporting our hypothesis, however, higher PPTP was related to lower levels of RS ([beta] = -.293) while higher PNTP was related to increased RS ([beta] = .490). (4)


Rejection sensitivity is a personality factor with serious implications for people's relationships. Higher RS results in intense emotional reactions to actual rejections, behavioral patterns that upset partners, perceptions of rejection in ambiguous situations, and increased maladaptive behaviors in relationships (e.g., suppressing one's thoughts). These behaviors are antithetical to the success of most interpersonal relationships and stress the importance of understanding the antecedents of this trait.

Our research shows that the manner in which we generally perceive the past plays an important role in predicting our sensitivity to social rejection. In Study 1, even after accounting for demographic variables and personality traits known to predict RS (e.g., extroversion and emotional stability), we still found that higher PPTP predicted less RS while higher PNTP predicted the opposite. In Study 2, even after accounting for early childhood rejection experiences, we replicated our findings from Study 1 and extended them using a different population and different measures for several factors.

There are, however, limitations with these studies. First, our measures (particularly the measures of childhood rejection in Study 2) are retrospective and subject to both memory biases and poor recall. Though we admit to this issue certainly being a possible problem, we also note that most papers examining the role of childhood rejections in developing RS also rely on retrospective measures. Furthermore, the measures we used to assess childhood rejection are commonly used as retrospective measures in a host of literatures. With respect to time perspective, Zimbardo and Boyd (1999) stated that the past TPs may be based on actual events, the reconstructed memories of otherwise benign events, or a mix of both (p. 1274); but such is the nature of any measure based not only on recalled events but also on any construct affected by childhood experiences or memories of those experiences. Nonetheless, future work should aim to perform longitudinal studies to examine the role of childhood experiences in predicting rejection sensitivity as well as time perspective, because this sort of examination would be beneficial in any number of important ways; by tracking throughout childhood how experiences of rejection affect both rejection sensitivity and time perspective, researchers would be in a better position to try to assess the causal relationship between these variables. Furthermore, because these studies (and most studies examining the formation of rejection sensitivity) rely on retrospective measure, assessing these constructs as they are occurring may offer more accurate insight into the aforementioned relationships between the variables.

That the other TPs did not predict rejection sensitivity is not surprising given the importance of the past in shaping one's RS. It is possible, however, that other personality factors might interact with these other TPs to affect RS. For example, perhaps individuals high in present-hedonic orientations would be less rejection sensitive, only insofar as they also gain pleasure and excitement from social interactions (e.g., extroverts). Future research should examine other personality variables that might interact with varying TPs to predict rejection sensitivity.

Future work might also examine how TP predicts the consequences of rejection sensitivity. Research has clearly shown that individuals with high RS aggress following experiences of rejection (Ayduk et al., 2008). Certain time perspectives may paint a more nuanced picture of this relationship; individuals with a present-hedonic time perspective may be most likely to aggress following social ostracism. Rejection violates the enjoyment and pleasure of the moment, and aggression occurs in retaliation for that violation. At the same time, it may be that a future orientation would result in less aggression, because individuals may wish for future reaffiliation and thus would avoid conflict now. Whether TP is examined with respect to its interaction with RS or simply with rejection manipulations alone, it is an area worthy of future examination.

Another particularly interesting avenue for future research is to examine the extent to which TP can be altered. In addition to claims that TP is situationally malleable, Zimbardo and Boyd (2008) asserted that it is possible to change one's TP permanently. Though, to our knowledge, this remains untested, this possibility would be an incredibly important finding with respect to RS research. If, for example, it is possible to shift from a past negative orientation to a past positive one, it may be possible to reduce one's RS through experimentation or through action outside the lab. Zimbardo and Boyd explicitly stated that there are techniques one can use to alter their chronic TP, and if this is true, it would be possible to examine whether these changes would affect rejection sensitivity. For example, they assert that by reconstructing negative past events in a positive light, one can eventually change his or her past negative perspective to a past positive one; an adult with a PNTP may recall that "my father was never there for me," a global attribution. If instead, the adult looked back and recalled both the times he was there for him or her as well as the reasons why the father was not always present (e.g., "He worked unusual hours to support our family"), this could lead to a reduction of PNTP. They further suggest that to increase PPTPs, individuals can focus on positive events of the past and engage in behaviors that tie individuals to the people and places in the past. While this work would have several stages before its completion (the claim that TP can be altered remains untested to our knowledge), this work is nonetheless extremely exciting for its theoretical and applied potential.

Rejection sensitivity has monumental effects on people's relationships. That the lens through which individuals see their past--after accounting for their recollection of childhood experiences of social rejection--can predict individual sensitivity to rejection is important. Not only does our research provide additional means for explaining variation in RS, it also opens new avenues for understanding individual differences regarding the behaviors exhibited following rejection. With additional research, such an understanding could have implications to a number of subdisciplines, including personality, social, and clinical psychology.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Michael J. Bernstein, 1600 Woodland Road, Abington, PA 19001; E-mail:



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(1.) All alphas are based on the results of the current research.

(2.) Readers may wish to know the relationship between the TPs and RS without controlling for any of the aforementioned variables. When conducting a multiple regression using the five TPs to predict RS, we find a significant model, F (5, 225) = 6.91, p < .001, [R.sup.2] = .13. Supporting our predictions, while higher PNTP ([beta] = .197, p = .005) and lower PPTP ([beta] = -.201, p = .004) both predict greater RS, the other three TPs fail to predict. Similar results were found for Study 2 when using the five TPs to predict RS, F(5, 72) = 6.29, p < .001, [R.sup.2] = .30. Just as in Study 1, and in our full results of Study 2, which includes all our control variables, while higher PNTP (8 = .39, p = .002) and lower PPTP ([beta] = -.27, p = .018) both predict greater rejection sensitivity, the other three TPs fail to predict.

(3.) Astute readers may notice that age did predict RS in Study 1, where we had a relatively more homogenous sample with respect to age, while it did not predict RS in Study 2. While interpreting null effects is difficult, one possible explanation for this is that early adulthood involves the development and solidification of multiple aspects of disposition, and one such trait that may not yet be firmly developed at young adulthood but more robust by one's mid-20s is RS. Given that our Study 1 sample was composed mostly of individuals between the ages of 18 and 24, while in Study 2 that same age range comprised only 30% of the total sample, it is possible that the developmental effect would be more pronounced in the homogenous sample while being muffled in the more heterogeneous sample, for whom the relationship between age and RS is more tenuous, if present at all.

(4.) Readers may wonder how our model changes if we instead included the five TPs from the ZTPI in Block 3 and then moved the measures of childhood rejection (i.e., the MSPSS, the Peer Acceptance and Peer Rejection scales, and the four CTS measures of Parental/Marital Violence Frequency and Parental/Marital Violence Severity) in Block 4. Doing this results in a relatively unchanged model; the addition of the ZTPI scales in Block 3 leads to a significant addition of variance explained ([DELTA][R.sup.2] = .14, p = .011) as does the addition of the measures of childhood rejection in Block 4 ([DELTA][R.sup.2] = .12, p = .042; see Table 2 for comparison to respective Blocks 4 and 3). Furthermore, in Block 3 we again see that higher PNTP ([beta] = .49) and lower PPTP [beta] = -.28) both result in more RS (both ps < .05). That the model remains unchanged suggests, as we have suggested, that ZTPI and our measures of childhood rejection are explaining different and unique variance in RS.

Michael J. Bernstein and Jacob A. Benfield

Penn State Abington
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Author:Bernstein, Michael J.; Benfield, Jacob A.
Publication:The Psychological Record
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2013
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