Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Rejection (Psychology); Interpersonal relations--Psychological aspects;


Humans have a fundamental need to belong, and being rejected or devalued elicits strong emotional reactions such as stress and anxiety (Leary, 2001). Low perceived relational evaluation (PRE), as a type of rejection, occurs when one person in a relationship believes his or her significant other does not regard his or her bond with the other person as valuable, close, or important (Leary, 2001). The goal of the research was to examine the interrelations among PRE, cortisol (biological stress), relationship quality, and physical and psychological within dating couples. Undergraduate female students (N = 109) who were involved in dating relationships completed computer-based questionnaires assessing various aspects of their current relationship as well as measures of psychological and physical health symptoms. Immediately prior to and after completing the questionnaires, participants provided saliva samples that were subsequently analyzed for cortisol levels. PRE was expected to be positively correlated with satisfaction and commitment and negatively correlated with physical and psychological health. Relationship stress was expected to be positively correlated with physical health symptoms. Neuroticism was expected to be negatively correlated with cortisol and positively correlated with psychological health and physical health symptoms. Additionally, cortisol was expected to mediate the relationship between PRE and satisfaction, commitment, psychological health, and physical health symptoms. This mediational effect was further predicted to be moderated by neuroticism. PRE was positively correlated with satisfaction and commitment and negatively correlated with psychological distress. Contrary to expectations, PRE was not significantly correlated with physical health symptoms. In addition, cortisol was not significantly related to any of the criterion variables. Therefore, neuroticism was examined as a moderator variable between PRE and the criterion variables. However, no moderation results were significant. Strengths of the research include assessing PRE for its influence on physical and psychological health and obtaining self-report and biological indicators of stress. However, the research was limited by a small sample size and small effect sizes. Future research may benefit from utilizing a longitudinal design as well as including a measure of self-esteem.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Robert Hitlan, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vi, 88 pages)



Included in

Psychology Commons