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Rejection Really Does Affect Your Heart

30/09/2010 12:52 | Updated 22 May 2015

If you've ever been dumped or rejected socially, you'll know how painful it can be (emotionally, that is). But now scientists have discovered being rejected can make your heart skip a beat.

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Earlier studies have shown that rejection can cause both emotional and physical distress - for instance, when you're being rejected, your level of cortisol (a stress hormone) goes haywire.

And a new study, published in the journal Psychological Science, shows rejection literally stops your heart - though thankfully only for a moment.

Researchers from the University of Amsterdam asked volunteers to submit photos of themselves for the experiment. These were shown to separate volunteers, who were asked if they liked the look of the people in the photos.

The volunteers who had submitted their photos were hooked up to an electrocardiogram (heart rate) monitor. Then as each verdict on the photos came through, they were given the good or bad news.

When the verdict was a thumbs down, the researchers noticed a significant slowing down of the volunteer's heart rate. in other words, when they were rejected, their heart beats skipped.

In the same experiment the second group of volunteers were asked to estimate the age of those in the photographs. And again, when they were judged as looking older than their age, their hearts skipped again. In other words, when someone thinks you look older than you are, it has the same effect on your heart as being socially rejected.

How has being rejected affected you? Tell us how you bounced back.

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