Are single people unfairly stereotyped?

Four studies examined the accuracy of the single stereotype by comparing perceptions of single and partnered targets with self-ratings and ratings by others of single and partnered participants. Results revealed that single targets were evaluated more negatively than partnered targets in terms of a wide range of personality characteristics, overall well-being, and satisfaction with relationships status. These findings were very robust and not qualified by target sex, participant sex, and participant relationship status. In contrast, self-ratings of single and partnered participants were remarkably similar for all personality characteristics as well as overall well-being, which was corroborated by ratings of participants by others. However, partnered participants were indeed more satisfied with their relationship status than single participants. When all is considered, the single stereotype is largely inaccurate.

Source: Stereotypes of singles: are singles what we think?” from European Journal of Social Psychology


Providing the first empirical evidence of discrimination against singles, participants in multiple experiments favored married couples over various types of singles and failed to recognize such differential treatment as discrimination. In four experiments, undergraduates and rental agents read descriptions of multiple applicants for a rental property and chose one. The applicant pool, varying across experiments, included a married couple and different types of singles. Although the applicants were similar on substantive dimensions, participants consistently chose the married couple over the singles and explicitly stated that the applicants’ marital status influenced their choice. In Experiment 5, participants read examples of housing discrimination against singles and other more recognized stigmatized groups. Participants rated discrimination against singles as more legitimate than discrimination against virtually all of the other groups.

Source: “No Shelter for Singles: The Perceived Legitimacy of Marital Status Discrimination” from Group Processes & Intergroup Relations

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