Stéphane Dandeneau & Mark W. Baldwin
McGill University, Montreal (QC), Canada

E-mail:stephane@ego.psych.mcgill.ca

 

THE REJECTION STROOP:
TRAINING AND MEASURING THE INHIBITION OF NEGATIVE SOCIAL FEEDBACK

 

The social construction of self-esteem has recently been studied using social cognitive models and methods. One approach examines the cognitive activation and inhibition of information relating to social feedback. The current research represents an initial step toward examining tendencies toward the inhibition of negative social evaluative information, using an emotional Stroop task as a measure of information processing. At the same time as developing this social cognitive dependent measure of inhibition, we also asked whether people can learn, through a brief training task, to inhibit negative social feedback. The training task involved identifying, over 112 trials, the smiling/approving face in a 4 x 4 matrix of frowning faces. The control condition involved identifying the 5-petaled flower in a matrix of 7-petaled flowers. Following the training task, participants were administered an emotional Stroop task (using rejection, acceptance, and neutral words) as a measure of inhibition of negative social information. The results suggest that our Stroop measure adequately assessed the accessibility of acceptance and rejection content. Results also demonstrate that people can be trained, through a brief experimental task, to inhibit negative social feedback. The application of this initial research involves examining people's chronic tendencies to activate or inhibit various kinds of social feedback.