What is Social Rejection?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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Social rejection happens when one individual is purposely excluded from social situations. This rejection can be performed by either an individual or a group of people, and it can be either active or passive in nature. There have been numerous studies centered around social rejection. These studies have shown that this type of rejection can lead to variety of negative psychological effects on the sufferer, including aggression and withdrawal.

Humans are social creatures, by nature, and rejection is almost always emotionally painful. Some rejection is normal in life, and just about everyone has experienced, or will experience, some sort of social exclusion during his lifetime. Repeated rejection, malicious or otherwise, can have a negative impact on a person. These rejections can be much more devastating for a highly sensitive individual, or if fitting in with a certain person or group is extremely important to the shunned person.

Active social rejection can manifest itself in such forms as bullying or teasing. Passive rejection, on the other hand, can be a bit harder to recognize, and it can include ignoring a certain individual and excluding him from certain activities. Although passive rejection may seem to be less cruel, it can have effects that are just as detrimental.


Psychologists have, over the years, tried to figure out who exactly is most likely to suffer from social rejection. Although it is not an exact science and all situations differ, they have discovered that those who are considered different from so-called normal people are more likely to be the social outcasts. Shy or aggressive people are thought to be targeted more for rejection, as these personality traits tend to be slightly unusual.

There have been a number of studies performed regarding the effects of social rejection. Some results have shown that children who are socially rejected are more likely to get poor grades, drop out of school, have low self-esteem, or develop a substance abuse problem. It has also been suggested that these individuals often become more and more aggressive or withdrawn.

One theory of social rejection is that it can become a vicious cycle. For example, if the social outcast is a shy person by nature, repeated rejection could most likely cause him to become more withdrawn. This, in turn, will often cause his peers to reject him more, he could possibly become more withdrawn, and so on.

The same is true with aggressive personalities. If a person is aggressive by nature, there is a good chance that he will become the social reject. These actions by his peers could possibly make him become even more aggressive. This cycle can go on for a person's entire life, and breaking the cycle can be quite difficult.


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Post 7

What do you do when it is your daughter who is being socially rejected by a girl at church? It bothers me that it is happening at church. That is the one place I would never want her to feel rejection. This young girl (on purpose) turns her back to my daughter when she walks up to say "hi," plays hide-and-seek with other girls -- only they hide from my daughter -- when my daughter thought they were playing with her. There are many other things too, but no time/room to type. It breaks my heart.

Post 6

What do you do when it is your daughter who is being socially rejected by a girl at church? It bothers me that it is happening at church, that is the one place I would never want her to feel rejection. This young girl (on purpose) turns her back to my daughter when she walks up to say "hi"...plays hide-and-seek with other girls...only they hide from my daughter... when my daughter thought they were playing with her. Many other things too but no time/room to type... It breaks my heart...

Post 5

I want to know if any co-relational studies have been conducted on "social rejection leads to low self efficacy."

Post 4

I was thinking about the comments in relation to my life and I came to the following conclusion: ChasingZoe is right regarding my perception of rejection by my parents - it is I who reject them, but they don't actually reject me. They are abusive but not rejecting. So what I really feel towards my parents is not rejection, but alienation.

The reason I'm saying this is that I feel that a sense of alienation may be an earlier step that leads to rejection (e.g., Bill's friends feel alienated from him because Bill is very intelligent. They may choose to remain friends with him but within a limited context or they may reject him altogether).

Of course, being rejected by one group of people increased my sense of alienation and consequently, the likelihood of me rejecting others.

Post 3

Another thing that I would wonder about when looking at events like those mentioned in anon’s comment would be how a person’s perception of their social acceptance might differ from their actual social acceptance. Along the same vein as my previous post, many people who feel socially rejected in their most basic relationships might take that feeling into other relationships. So even if they do have friends and are relatively accepted in society, they might not realize this.

This could be especially important when thinking about depression and other mental illnesses that arise in the cyclical nature of social rejection. Even if a person is accepted, feelings of rejection might lead them to push people away. This could be a self-fulfilling prophesy in a sense, as they would then become socially reclusive and reject themselves.

Post 2

@anon117170 - I think it’s really interesting how often I hear stories like this from people. While I couldn’t really say to what extent incidents like these really show the level of social rejection that person feels, it often seems like social rejection in one realm follows a person to many other realms. I think the article is spot on when it mentions that social rejection is usually found to be very cyclical. In psychological studies, including the ones mentioned in the article, they often find that people who are highly rejected socially often also perceive themselves as rejected from their families.

Which brings me back to anon’s comment. Most of the time, when I hear stories like these, they aren’t

isolated incidents. Usually, these types of stories are a sign of further relationship problems. When people tell me about things like this that have happened to them, they usually have many more similar events that have also happened. Of course there is always more to a story than what can be taken at face value, but in terms of this article I am struck by the frequency of these types of problems and what they might say about a person’s well-being and their perceptions of their social relationships.
Post 1

I work with a woman who deliberately left her sister out of her daughter's wedding two weeks ago in Llanelli. She invited family she hadn't spoken to in years, half the village and half the store (just to fund the daughter's flashy wedding and Australian honeymoon). Yet B&G earn huge salaries. lol

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