Social psychologists theorize that individuals seek connection following rejection. However, accepting connection from a low status other may imply that one is of similarly low status, which may call into question one’s prospects for future acceptance. Thus, we hypothesized that rejection would lead individuals to distance themselves from a low status other even when the low status other is accepting. In two studies, single, heterosexual, female participants received simultaneous acceptance/rejection feedback from one physically attractive man and one less attractive man. As predicted, rejected individuals derogated their rejecters as indicated by a decreased desire for affiliation and more negative evaluations. Moreover, participants rejected by the attractive man also derogated the unattractive man even when the unattractive man offered acceptance. These data may shed light on specific circumstances under which rejection leads to antisocial behavior.
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