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social rejection, emotion perception, borderline personality disorder


Deficits in interpersonal functioning are a core component of borderline personality disorder (BPD; Jeung & Herpertz, 2014). BPD is generally associated with misperceptions of social cues including a tendency to perceive others as unfair and rejecting. Furthermore, there is mixed evidence regarding whether individuals with BPD have enhanced abilities or deficits in accurately identifying emotions (Deckers et al., 2015; Putnam & Silk, 2005; Staebler et al., 2011). The inconsistencies may be due to the limited ecological validity of the emotional stimuli. However, it is plausible that dynamic situational factors can lead to differences in emotion identification. Therefore, this project examines how social context and borderline personality features affects an individual’s ability to accurately perceive emotions. One hundred and seventy-one female participants between the ages of 18 and 45 (M = 24.08, SD = 6.51) were recruited from Prolific and SONA. They completed a measure of Borderline Personality Features (PAI-BOR; Morey, 1991) and were randomly assigned to one of three Cyberball (Williams et al., 2000) conditions to induce interpersonal exclusion or acceptance. Finally, participants completed The Awareness of Social Inference Test (TASIT Part A; McDonald et al., 2003) to evaluate their accuracy in identifying emotions. A 2 (BOR status) by 3 (Social rejection, inclusion, overinclusion) between subjects analysis of variance was conducted to determine whether these features significantly impact emotion perception. We did not find a significant main effect of the Cyberball condition (F(2,170) = .233, p = .79) or borderline status (F(1,170) = .178, p = .67). There was also no significant interaction (F(2,170) = .564, p = .57), therefore, borderline personality features did not moderate the relationship. Borderline personality features were not associated with altered perceptions of social exclusion, inclusion, overinclusion in this nonclinical sample. Further, experiencing rejection did not impact emotion perception which is inconsistent with previous studies.

First Advisor

Sara Lowmaster

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