Thesis

Rejection sensitivity and dissociation among adopted and non-adopted adults

This study explored the veracity of numerous reports that adoptees experience a higher than average fear of reexperiencing rejection. A higher prevalence of rejection sensitivity and dissociation was predicted among adopted adults relative to comparative norms. Rejection sensitivity was defined as a tendency to anxiously anticipate, readily perceive, and overreact to rejection. Dissociative defenses were predicted to be the means of coping to the loss of the first attachment bond. Dissociation and rejection sensitivity were measured among international and domestic adoptees, among people who lived in foster care and international institutional settings, and among a comparative sample. Participants registered through Amazon Mechanical Turk completed online self-report surveys. Data analysis revealed no differences between adopted and non-adopted groups, between international or domestic groups, or between foster care and adopted participants for rejection sensitivity. For rejection sensitivity, significant differences between scores were found between Foster Care and a normative sample; participants who had experienced foster care scored significantly lower than comparative norms. Dissociation was not found to be significant among any of the groups measured in this study. These findings suggest a resiliency among a non-clinical sample of adopted, foster care, and international groups to the experience of early loss of a significant attachment relationship.

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