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Stigma, Status, and Singles: The Effect of Marital Status on Perceptions of the Unmarried

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Abstract:

Singles are the emerging majority. Yet research on singles is surprisingly sparse. With the exception of single mothers, family scholars have focused almost exclusively on marriage, and more recently, cohabitation. The primary contribution of this article is to demonstrate the ways in which people draw on cultural beliefs about marital status to globally stigmatize singles, while simultaneously elevating their status in workplace contexts. Study 1 experimentally assesses the ways in which marital status and gender shape perceptions of middle-aged married and never married men and women. Study 2 experimentally manipulates marital status as well, but examines perceptions of middle-aged married, never married, and divorced men and women. Given that the percentage of African Americans who marry is relatively low, Study 2 also asks if the implications of being single vary by race. In Study 3, I shift the focus from stigma to status and ask if application materials for equally qualified job candidates who differ only on marital status are viewed differently. Studies 1 and 2 reveal that single is a highly stigmatized identity; however, study 2 finds that not all singles are viewed similarly. While both were stigmatized, never married singles were stigmatized more than divorced singles. Stigma did not depend on target’s race. In Study 3, I find that never married job applicants are believed to be more competent, committed, and available compared to otherwise identical job applicants. These perceived attributes do not, however, translate into greater organizational rewards.

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Association:
Name: American Sociological Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.asanet.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1010013_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Munsch, Christin. "Stigma, Status, and Singles: The Effect of Marital Status on Perceptions of the Unmarried" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Chicago and Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, Illinois, Aug 20, 2015 <Not Available>. 2017-09-28 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1010013_index.html>

APA Citation:

Munsch, C. L. , 2015-08-20 "Stigma, Status, and Singles: The Effect of Marital Status on Perceptions of the Unmarried" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Chicago and Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, Illinois Online <PDF>. 2017-09-28 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1010013_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Singles are the emerging majority. Yet research on singles is surprisingly sparse. With the exception of single mothers, family scholars have focused almost exclusively on marriage, and more recently, cohabitation. The primary contribution of this article is to demonstrate the ways in which people draw on cultural beliefs about marital status to globally stigmatize singles, while simultaneously elevating their status in workplace contexts. Study 1 experimentally assesses the ways in which marital status and gender shape perceptions of middle-aged married and never married men and women. Study 2 experimentally manipulates marital status as well, but examines perceptions of middle-aged married, never married, and divorced men and women. Given that the percentage of African Americans who marry is relatively low, Study 2 also asks if the implications of being single vary by race. In Study 3, I shift the focus from stigma to status and ask if application materials for equally qualified job candidates who differ only on marital status are viewed differently. Studies 1 and 2 reveal that single is a highly stigmatized identity; however, study 2 finds that not all singles are viewed similarly. While both were stigmatized, never married singles were stigmatized more than divorced singles. Stigma did not depend on target’s race. In Study 3, I find that never married job applicants are believed to be more competent, committed, and available compared to otherwise identical job applicants. These perceived attributes do not, however, translate into greater organizational rewards.


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