Last year when I met with Dr. Griffin for the first time to discuss our research project, we had trouble narrowing down the focus of our research. The field of rejection is so broad when applied to psychology, that we spent our first few meetings discussing all the different ways it affects human thought and behavior. But before long we discovered something interesting that hasn’t been studied very closely in the past.
Dr. Griffin and I have been researching the connections between rejection sensitivity (particularly regarding the end of relationships) and the psychological reactions people go through when they experience the death of a loved one. That is, we are looking to see if the reactions from being rejected and the reactions to the death of a loved one are in any way connected.
So far, the research has proven exciting, as we have already found several significant connections between the two. For instance, we’ve found significant parallels between the grieving process an individual experiences with death, and the coping process an individual experiences when a relationship ends (specifically with break ups/divorces).
We have also been studying the connections between rejection sensitivity and self-esteem. Our hypothesis is that individuals with higher self-esteem may in fact have a harder time dealing with rejection as it can serve as damaging to their idea of themselves as “flawless”. On the other hand, we hypothesize that individuals with lower self-esteem may not be so heavily struck by rejection, as they do not see it as so significant a blow to their self-image (although the internal effects may be dangerous).
Likewise, we have looked into the connections between rejection sensitivity and empathy. Our main question here is whether or not the more empathic individual is more sensitive to rejection. However, we are also looking into whether or not a more empathic person may be less likely to act as the rejecter due to their deeper understanding of the other person’s emotions. Our hypothesis for individuals with lower levels of empathy remains that those individuals both deal with rejection and reject others with less internal conflict.
In recent weeks, I have been organizing research methods with the assistance of Dr. Griffin. I recently finished organizing our first survey that we will be distributing to various groups within our target demographic. I’ve organized the survey into different sections that will help us determine a person’s specific level of rejection sensitivity, empathy, self-esteem, and methods of grieving (one section regarding death, one regarding relationships).
Our research thus far has proven fascinating. In the coming months, we will be examining the data we receive from our surveys and experiments. At that point, we will be able to start getting some concrete answers to our hypotheses; answers that I’m certain will be fascinating.