Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Immune response may link social rejection to later health outcomes

Date:
October 16, 2012
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
No matter how you look at it, rejection hurts. Experiencing rejection from a boss, a friend, or a partner is difficult for many adults to handle. But adolescents, who are dealing with the one-two punch of biological and social change, may be most vulnerable to its negative effects. A new study examines the immune response as a potential link between social stressors like rejection and later mental and physical health outcomes.

No matter which way you look at it, rejection hurts. Experiencing rejection from a boss, a friend, or a partner is difficult enough for many adults to handle. But adolescents, who are dealing with the one-two punch of biological and social change, may be the most vulnerable to its negative effects.

In a new study published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researcher Michael Murphy and colleagues examine the human immune response as a potential link between social stressors like rejection and later mental and physical health outcomes.

There are many kinds of stressors that increase our risk for disease, but stressors that threaten our social standing, such as targeted rejection, seem to be particularly harmful.

Many people are probably familiar with targeted rejection from their school days, when a student was actively and intentionally rejected by another student or a group of students. It's the kind of behavior that we see in so many cases of ostracism and bullying.

"Targeted rejection is central to some of life's most distressing experiences -- things like getting broken up with, getting fired, and being excluded from your peer group at school," said Murphy. "In this study, we aimed to examine processes that may give these experiences the ability to affect health."

Previous research has shown that people who are on the receiving end of this kind of rejection experience symptoms of depression three times faster than people who are faced with similarly severe life events. Researchers believe that certain inflammatory processes that are part of the immune response could be a link between targeted rejection and depression.

Murphy and colleagues decided to directly investigate whether rejection-related life events affect inflammatory activity by conducting a study that followed 147 healthy adolescent women over 2.5 years. The participants did not have a personal history of mental health problems but were all at risk for major depression due to family and other personal risk factors.

The participants were assessed for psychiatric diagnoses, incidences of targeted rejection, perceived social status, expression of inflammatory signaling molecules, and indicators of low-grade inflammation every 6 months over the course of the study.

The data collected suggest that recent exposure to targeted rejection does indeed activate the molecular signaling pathways that regulate inflammation. Participants had elevated levels of pro-inflammatory signaling molecules at visits when they had recently experienced an incidence of targeted rejection compared to visits when no targeted rejection had occurred.

Interestingly, the effect was more pronounced in those who perceived their social status to be higher.

Murphy and colleagues speculate that this inflammatory response might be adaptive for individuals at the top of a social hierarchy, giving them a survival advantage. The researchers note, however, that an overly productive immune response can be harmful to mental and physical health in the long run.

If substantiated in future research, these findings could have implications for understanding how social conditions increase risk for a variety of inflammation-related diseases, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and depression.

The study was co-authored by George M. Slavich, University of California, Los Angeles; Nicolas Rohleder, Brandeis University; and Gregory E. Miller, University of British Columbia.

The research was supported by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. L. M. Murphy, G. M. Slavich, N. Rohleder, G. E. Miller. Targeted Rejection Triggers Differential Pro- and Anti-Inflammatory Gene Expression in Adolescents as a Function of Social Status. Clinical Psychological Science, 2012; DOI: 10.1177/2167702612455743

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Immune response may link social rejection to later health outcomes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121016163247.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2012, October 16). Immune response may link social rejection to later health outcomes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121016163247.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Immune response may link social rejection to later health outcomes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121016163247.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins