Who is most vulnerable to social rejection? The toxic combination of low self-esteem and lack of negative emotion differentiation on neural responses to rejection.

TitleWho is most vulnerable to social rejection? The toxic combination of low self-esteem and lack of negative emotion differentiation on neural responses to rejection.
Publication TypeJournal Article
JournalPloS one
Volume9
Issue3
Paginatione90651
Date Published2014
Abstract

People have a fundamental need to belong that, when satisfied, is associated with mental and physical well-being. The current investigation examined what happens when the need to belong is thwarted-and how individual differences in self-esteem and emotion differentiation modulate neural responses to social rejection. We hypothesized that low self-esteem would predict heightened activation in distress-related neural responses during a social rejection manipulation, but that this relationship would be moderated by negative emotion differentiation-defined as adeptness at using discrete negative emotion categories to capture one's felt experience. Combining daily diary and neuroimaging methodologies, the current study showed that low self-esteem and low negative emotion differentiation represented a toxic combination that was associated with stronger activation during social rejection (versus social inclusion) in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and anterior insula-two regions previously shown to index social distress. In contrast, individuals with greater negative emotion differentiation did not show stronger activation in these regions, regardless of their level of self-esteem; fitting with prior evidence that negative emotion differentiation confers equanimity in emotionally upsetting situations.

URLhttp://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0090651
DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0090651
Short TitlePLoS One
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