Our relational value is a variable that we take into account in many of our actions. Usually having the feeling of increasing it is a reinforcement for us and on many occasions we also tend to come up with plans to make it happen.
Last update: June 28, 2021
Acceptance and rejection by others are experiences that are part of our personal development. This idea is based on the fact that human beings are by nature social beings.
It follows that we tend to establish interactions with our fellow men and we also want others to want to bond with us. The desire we feel for acceptance and belonging is the basis of many of our behaviors.
For this reason, we try to adapt our conduct to patterns that encourage others to accept us. Likewise, as a rule, we are committed to preventing the relationships we establish from ending, even if it means that we have to pay a rather high price to maintain them.
Nevertheless, on numerous occasions we are rejected or we feel that it is. Why does this happen? How can we trace the origin of these experiences? Let's explore the topic in the following lines.
Acceptance and rejection by others
Perhaps the best way to explain these highly subjective experiences is to see them as parts of a "Perceived relational value". This concept expresses the degree to which a person believes that others regard him as valuable or important based on the relationship he has established with them.
In other words, if we perceive that our relational value for another person or group is high, we will have the feeling of being accepted. On the contrary, a feeling of rejection appears when we perceive that others do not appreciate the relationship they have with us.
It is therefore a subjective, internal and personal experience, which has little to do with the degree of real acceptance or rejection. Therefore, being relationally valued increases the likelihood of acceptance. And many of our behaviors are aimed at promote and maintain our relational value.
Measuring relational value
It is possible to measure the relational value through the so-called sociometer theory. According to this theory, people have a psychological system that tracks signals from the social environment that are relevant to relational value. That is to say interprets the signals concerning acceptance and rejection.
It also somehow warns the person when signals of low or declining relationship value are detected. These symptoms would cause a negative mood, consequently a decrease in self-esteem. But it doesn't stop there.
One branch of sociometer theory argues that people also have a social monitoring system at their disposal. This system comes into play when we are concerned about our level of acceptance and integration.
A greater need for belonging increases people's sensitivity to social information, helping them to successfully deal with social contexts. It would seem that this system is activated at times when people are worried about social rejection. In summary, it could be said that these systems:
- They look for relevant clues to acceptance and rejection.
- They warn the individual when potential threats to their relationship value are detected.
- They motivate behaviors that protect or restore that value.
- They increase people's sensitivity to social information which will make them more likely to be accepted.
However, the intention of wanting to interact with others, and to be esteemed and accepted by them, does not manifest itself with the same intensity towards all people: it manifests itself to a greater extent towards those we are attracted to.
Acceptance and rejection: interpersonal attraction
Attraction results in positive evaluation of another person and a desire to get closer. But there is no precise definition of the term.
One of the most influential theories considers interpersonal attraction as an individual tendency or predisposition to value another person in a positive or negative way. The more positive the evaluation, the greater the attraction we feel towards him.
Attraction is considered an attitude with cognitive, affective and behavioral components. Over time the emotional aspects are accentuated, especially considering that attraction implies, not only evaluation, but also the desire to initiate a contact or establish an intimacy.