American University
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Examining the impact of online rejection on social media use among adults with borderline personality pathology and identity disturbance

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posted on 2024-05-10, 22:19 authored by Kelly Veronica Klein

As social media becomes an increasingly integral part of the present-day social landscape, its influence on individuals with developing or shifting identities, particularly those with high BPD features, warrant further examination. While the past decade has seen an increase in research regarding online social interactions and the digital world, few studies have investigated the association of BPD pathology and rejection via social media and other online settings among emerging adults. Fewer still have explored the impact this experience of online rejection may have on subsequent social media engagement, and no research thus far has considered the impact of online rejection on those with high features of identity disturbance and BPD pathology in relation to social media engagement. The current study aimed to evaluate how individuals with high features of borderline personality pathology, specifically, identity disturbance, experience social rejection in an online group chat setting (Richmond et al., 2020) and the impact the online rejection has on their subsequent affective lability and engagement with social media. Participants (n = 109) completed a battery of self-report measures used to assess personality traits, behavior, and mood, followed by participation in an online group chat task with random assignment to either a social rejection or social inclusion condition. Mood state post-interaction and subsequent social media use were assessed. Unexpectedly, a significant positive relation between identity disturbance and negative affect was found in the inclusion condition, rather than the rejection condition of the task. This indicates that individuals with higher levels of identity disturbance might experience increased negative affect when included in an online social interaction. Although no significant results were found regarding the anticipated exacerbation of negative affect for individuals with high BPD features, or changes in social media engagement following online rejection among those with high identity disturbance and BPD features, the implications of identity disturbance in the context of social inclusion present novel insights for further investigation.






Committee chair

Nathaniel R. Herr

Committee member(s)

Kathleen C. Gunthert; David A.F. Haaga

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Degree grantor

American University. College of Arts and Sciences

Degree level

  • Masters

Degree name

M.A. in Psychology, American University, May 2024

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57 pages

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