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Responses to Rejection: Testing the Multimotive Model Among High School Students Experiencing Peer Victimization

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2020
21 pages

The primary purpose of the reported projects was to test a newer, largely untested, theory about when experiencing social rejection leads to antisocial behavior instead of prosocial or asocial responses.


The theory reviewed is Richman and Leary’s (2009) Multimotive Model, along with modifications made to this theory for the current project. As part of their synthesis of decades of research on social rejection, Richman and Leary identified three basic sets of behavioral responses to rejection: prosocial (e.g., seeking support, forgiveness, and mending bonds); asocial (e.g., social withdrawal, avoidance); or antisocial (e.g., aggression, retaliation). The model then proposes theoretical pathways to each of these types of behavioral outcomes. The model posits that the behavioral path chosen depends on how the individual “makes sense” of the rejection. The proposed revision to this model integrated new research on social alienation and perceived groupness. This report then describes the methodology used to test the validity of the Multimotive Model. This is followed by a review of test findings, advising that future testing of the Multimotive Model should focus on the group dynamics that affect individual responses to peer aggression, not just one-on-one dynamics. 3 figures, 1 table, and 14 references

Date Published: December 1, 2020