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Rejection Sensitivity Widens the Affect Gap Between Strong and Weak Ties

Sat, May 27, 8:00 to 9:15, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, 2, Indigo Ballroom D


The elevated positive affect that comes from interacting with strong ties, as opposed to weak ties – i.e., the affect gap – is well-established in past research. What remains less clear is whether personality traits modulate the quality of daily interactions with strong and weak ties in distinctive ways. Here we consider the role of trait rejection sensitivity (RS), which refers to the people who worry the most about potential social rejection. Drawing on data from a two-week experience sampling study, we clarify how rejection sensitivity moderates daily interaction supportiveness and enjoyment. We find that RS individuals not only view weak tie interactions as less satisfying, they also perceive strong tie interactions as more rewarding – thus magnifying the affect gap in a radial pattern. Further, we find that this spectral interaction between RS and tie strength occurs more strongly for mediated (vs. face-to-face) interactions. Together, these findings demonstrate the interlocked relationships between personality traits, partner closeness, and communication mode in shaping the quality of everyday interactions.


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