Singles are more prejudiced and some think it’s okay


Some stigmatized groups, such as gays and lesbians, make progress in addressing stigma when they see themselves as part of a group. Historically, this could mean participating in a social movement, but there can be progress even below that. Identifying with other people like you, feeling a connection with them, and seeing other members of the group as having a lot in common can perhaps become the first steps to being taken seriously as a group that is sick and tired. not going to take it anymore.

For groups like gays and lesbians, identification with other gays and lesbians occurred in the crucible of blatant discrimination against them, as well as the belief of others that it was acceptable. to have prejudices against them. The fight against discrimination and the acceptability of discrimination were the objectives of the social movement that emerged.

Does all of this apply to singles? Do singles see themselves as part of a group? Do they identify with other singles and see singles as having a lot in common with each other? Do they realize that they are the targets of prejudice and discrimination?

What about people who are not single? Do they see singles as a group? Do they think it’s okay to be prejudiced against singles?

Snapshot of recent research: a snapshot

In a pair of studies published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Alexandra N. Fisher and John K. Sakaluk answered all of these questions. They found that singles on average see themselves as part of a group. But they don’t identify as single as much as they identify with people who share their sexual orientation. They also identify with other singles unless the coupled people identify with other coupled people.

People who are not single also see singles as a group. But coupled people are seen as a more cohesive group, as are members of sexual minorities.

On average, single people realize that they personally experience more discrimination than couples. They also know that singles as a group are more often discriminated against than couples. While single people also identify as members of a sexual minority, they see themselves more discriminated against because of this than because of their marital status.

Other people think it’s more acceptable to be prejudiced against singles than against straight, asexual or gay, lesbian or bisexual, research suggests. Now here’s the connection between group-y-ness of singles and discrimination: The more people saw singles as part of a group, the less they thought it was okay to be prejudiced against them. This raises the possibility – although it surely does not establish it definitively – that there are potential gains in social justice when singles identify more with other singles and when others begin to realize that singles. singles have a certain solidarity.

Seeing Singles as a Group and as a Stigmatized Group: The Details

Here are the details of the two studies.

Do Singles relate to other Singles as a group?

To determine whether singles identified with singles as a group, five types of questions were asked:

  • Centrality of the group for you: “I often think about the fact that I am single.”
  • Solidarity: “I feel a connection with singles. “
  • Satisfaction: “I’m happy to be single.
  • Have a lot in common, personally: “I have a lot in common with the average bachelor.”
  • The band members have a lot in common: “Singles have a lot in common with each other. “

It doesn’t take much to get people to identify with a group, even the most arbitrary and seemingly meaningless. In many studies, including this one, participants are shown dots on screens and asked to estimate how many dots they see. Then, they are told, arbitrarily, that they are either “underestimators” or “overestimators”. Instead of just shrugging their shoulders, people identify with other underestimates or overestimates. They favor their own group over the other group, as if being underestimates or overestimates makes them superior to the other type.

In the first study, with 297 adults from the United States recruited using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, Fisher and Sakaluk first administered the point estimation task and assessed the identification of participants with their group. They only did this to see if singles would identify more with singles as a group than they would identify with, say, their overvalued colleagues. They did it.

The study also included people in romantic relationships, and they were asked the same kinds of questions about identifying with other people in romantic relationships. Linked people identify with other linked people as a group even more than single people identify with other single people as a group.

Participants were also asked about their identification with others who shared their sexual orientation. Singles identified more with people who shared their sexual orientation than with other singles.

Do Singles Think They Are The Target of Discrimination?

To see if singles think they are discriminated against, they were asked to describe their personal experiences as well as how singles as a group are treated.

  • Personal experiences: “To what extent have you been personally discriminated against because you are single?
  • Group experiences: “To what extent do you think that single people experience discrimination? “

People in romantic relationships have been asked the same kinds of questions about their experiences of discrimination. All participants were asked about their perceptions of discrimination as a member of their sexual orientation group.

Singles thought they experienced more discrimination because they were single than people in a relationship thought because of being in a relationship. Singles also believe that singles tend to experience more discrimination (as a group) than people in a relationship realize. Indeed, singles are targets of discrimination in many areas of life. In the United States, this includes discrimination enshrined in federal laws.

Singles who identified as a sexual minority (for example, as gay, lesbian, bisexual or asexual) reported experiencing more personal discrimination as a member of this group than as a single. They also believed that their sexual minority group as a whole suffered more discrimination than singles as a group.

Do other people see singles as a group?

In a second study, Fisher and Sakaluk interviewed 153 adults in the United States, again recruited using Mechanical Turk, about the perceptions of groups they did not belong to. Singles shared their perceptions of people in romantic relationships and vice versa. Sexual people shared their perceptions of asexuals and vice versa. Heterosexuals shared their perceptions of gays, lesbians and bisexuals and vice versa. The meaningless group was also included, and the overestimates judged the underestimates and vice versa.

These questions were used to see if other people see singles as a group:

  • “Some groups have the characteristics of a ‘group’ more than others. To what extent is this group (single people) referred to as a “group”? “
  • “How important is this group (isolated people) to its members? “
  • “How well do the members of the group interact with each other? “

The same kind of questions were asked about the other groups.

The results were very similar to what the researchers found in their first study, when they asked people about their own groups:

  • Singles were seen more as a group than arbitrary groups of overestimates or underestimates.
  • Singles were considered to be less grouped than people in a couple.
  • Singles were seen as less of a group than gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

Do other people think it’s okay to be prejudiced against singles?

To see if people thought it was okay to be prejudiced against singles, the researchers asked participants in the second study to rate the extent to which it was okay to “express negative feelings toward singles.” . Similar questions were asked about the acceptability of bias against members of other groups.

Remember, the people who judged singles were paired people. Being prejudiced against singles was considered more acceptable than being prejudiced against heterosexuals, asexuals, or gays, lesbians, or bisexuals. In fact, prejudices against a single group were rated as significantly more acceptable than prejudices against singles, and that was the arbitrary group (people who overestimate or underestimate the number of points on a screen).

Does it matter if singles are considered a group?

When people viewed singles as a group, they were less likely to say it was okay to be prejudiced against them. But the singles group-y-ness wasn’t the most powerful factor in whether people thought it was okay to be biased against singles. The authors said that “prejudice against singles had more to do with people’s beliefs about the ability and desire of individual singles to disunite rather than their perception of the group per se.” (I’ll start a new hashtag on Twitter: #DontUnsingleYourself.)

A few words of caution

In the introduction to the article, the authors claim that people who marry experience greater well-being. But in 2012, there were already 18 studies showing that people who marry do not become permanently happier than they were when they were single. Now there are even more, and they also include health studies.

At the end of their article, the authors mention the “unhappiness of single people”. I don’t think there has ever been a study showing that, on average, the well-being of singles is poor. In happiness studies, for example, singles tend to rank on the right side of the scale. (I have reviewed some of these studies in Distinct.)

As far as health is concerned, it is the same thing. For example, in a to study of a national sample of adults in the United States, long-term singles had the option of saying their health was poor. Instead, 92.6% said it was good or excellent.

A version of this message appears on Equality of singles (EU) and is adapted with permission from the organization. The opinions expressed are my own. For links to previous EU columns, click here.


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