Olga U.A. Nynaes '16, Gettysburg College

Emily S. Wakschal '16, Gettysburg College

Laura M. Kapner '17, Gettysburg College

Erin Sweeney '18, Gettysburg College

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Individuals with borderline and avoidant personality disorders show interpersonal dysfunction that includes maladaptive responses to rejection and reduced emotional benefits from acceptance. To identify the attributional styles that may underlie these difficulties, we examined causal attributions for rejection and acceptance among undergraduates high in features of each disorder and a healthy comparison group. In Study 1, participants rated how likely they were to attribute hypothetical rejection and acceptance experiences to positive and negative qualities of the self and others, as well as external circumstances. In Study 2, we examined these same attributions in daily diary assessments of real rejection and acceptance experiences. Although the two studies showed some differences in results, they both linked borderline personality features with suspicious, selfbolstering responses and avoidant personality features with perceived inferiority. Distinct attributional styles may contribute to the distinct interpersonal problems characteristic of these conditions.




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