Article

The Devaluation of Relationships (not Individuals): The Case of Dyadic Relationship Stigmatization

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Abstract

This study addresses how people devalue romantic relationships without devaluing the individuals in the relationship. We examined perceptions of condom use in close relationships in 3 studies. Relationships of couples who used condoms were devalued, relative to relationships of those who used oral contraceptives. However, the perceptions of individuals in the relationships were unchanged by type of birth-control use. In 2 studies, the dyadic devaluation concept was extended to relationships in which one partner was significantly older than the other. Participants believed that relationships in which the woman was substantially older than the man were of lesser quality than relationships in which the man and woman were the same age. Implications for stigma and person perception research are discussed.

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... For example, CNM individuals are perceived as more promiscuous and more likely to have an STI (Balzarini et al., 2018;Conley et al., 2013) but also more likely to use condoms . Although these results seem contradictory, individuals who regularly use condoms with their partners tend to be perceived as having a poorer relationship quality (Conley & Rabinowitz, 2009). Moreover, condoms are often ditched or switched to other contraceptive methods as the relationship becomes more serious and trustworthy (Civic, 2000;Critelli & Suire, 1998;He et al., 2016;Hock-Long et al., 2013;Manning et al., 2009;Wildsmith et al., 2015). ...
... These results align with and replicate previous studies, suggesting that CNM partners are deemed more promiscuous, more likely to spread STIs, less committed, and less honest (Balzarini et al., 2018;Conley et al., 2013;Hutzler et al., 2016;Moors et al., 2013). The findings that CNM partners also had more sexual health concerns-including more likely to use condoms-than monogamous partners can also be explained by the negative appraisal of these individuals, namely that CNM partners have dishonest and uncommitted romantic relationships (Conley & Rabinowitz, 2009;Wildsmith et al., 2015). The stigma attached to consensual non-monogamy seems to persist despite the consistent evidence suggesting CNM and monogamous partners have similar relationship functioning, such as experiencing similar levels of satisfaction, commitment, and even jealousy (Lecuona et al., 2021;Mitchell et al., 2020;Mogilski et al., 2019;Rodrigues et al., 2017Rodrigues et al., , 2021aRubel & Bogaert, 2015). ...
Article
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Studies have shown that romantic partners in consensual non-monogamous (CNM) relationships are targets of stigmatization. However, little is known about the underlying mechanisms and the conditions under which such stigmatization occurs. In two experimental studies (combined N = 772), we asked participants to read the description of two partners in a relationship (monogamous vs. open relationship vs. polyamorous) and make a series of judgments about those partners. Overall results showed that CNM (vs. monogamous) partners were perceived as less trustworthy and as having more sexual health concerns (Studies 1 and 2), and as being less committed and less sexually satisfied (Study 2). Results from a conditional mediation analysis (Study 2) further showed that participants with negative attitudes toward consensual non-monogamy perceived CNM (vs. monogamous) partners as having less conservation and more openness to change values, which was then associated with more stigmatization. In contrast, participants with positive attitudes toward consensual non-monogamy perceived CNM (vs. monogamous) partners as having more openness to change values, which was then associated with less stigmatization. Taken together, these results extended the literature focused on prejudice, discrimination, and stigmatization of minority groups and highlighted key elements that can be used to buffer stigmatization.
... The relationships that are subject to the highest levels of disapproval frequently counter this tendency, in that the partners are highly dissimilar on a salient characteristic that has important social meaning (e.g., race, age, religion, social class). In such cases, it is the couple itself that is devalued due to the combined characteristics of the partners (Conley & Rabinowitz, 2009). The individuals themselves are not necessarily stigmatized or viewed differently, although they could certainly be subject to bias in other contexts depending upon the other personal identities they might possess (e.g., a devalued racial or sexual minority status). ...
Chapter
How do we choose a partner to initiate a relationship with, and what makes us stay in a given relationship over time? These questions are most often pursued by scholars with an emphasis on the internal thoughts, feelings, and motivations of individual decision-makers. Conversely, this volume highlights the importance of considering external influences on individual decision-making in close relationships. Featuring contributions from internationally renowned scholars, the volume is divided into two interrelated sections. The first section considers global and societal influences on romantic relationships and the second focuses on social network and communicative influences on romantic relationships. Taken together, this collection helps us to better understand how external factors influence the internal machinations of those involved in intimate relationships.
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People involved in an age-discrepant relationship, where one partner is significantly older than the other, are typically viewed with negative cultural tropes and stereotypes. Using a chain sampling technique to recruit participants, data were collected through 20 in-depth interviews with men and women who experienced being in a relationship with an age gap of 10 or more years between partners. Analyses revealed participants used common techniques to manage and overcome the stigma, both in self-interaction and in interaction with others. In self-interaction, participants drew from “love narratives” to reframe their involvement with someone much younger or older as something outside of their control. When interacting with others, participants used techniques of passing, lampooning, and dismissing. Passing involved participants’ ability to feel and appear closer in age to their partner. Lampooning involved the use of humor to deflect the threat of stigma. Dismissing involved repudiation of the stigma associated with age-discrepant relationships. Importantly, participants’ use of these techniques worked either in defense of or as a reaction against the inequality they faced in an age-discrepant relationship.
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In the context of recent debates about same-sex marriage, consensually nonmonogamous (CNM) relationships have recently begun making their way into media discussions. In the current research, we investigated whether stigma is attached to these nonnormative romantic relationships and, conversely, whether halo effects surround monogamous relationships. In Study 1 we analyzed open-ended responses to the question “what are the benefits of monogamy?”. The most commonly mentioned benefits included the promotion of commitment and health (especially the prevention of sexually transmitted infections [STIs]). In Study 2, descriptions of CNM relationships were strongly stigmatized and a substantial halo effect surrounded monogamous relationships. Specifically, monogamous relationships were rated more positively than CNM relationships on every dimension (both relationship-relevant and arbitrary relationship-irrelevant factors) that we examined and across diverse social groups, including CNM individuals themselves. In Study 3, we conducted a person perception study in which participants provided their impressions of a monogamous or a CNM relationship. The monogamous couple was rated overwhelmingly more favorably than the CNM relationship. Finally, in Study 4, we replicated the findings with a set of traits that were generated with regard to relationships in general (rather than monogamous relationships, specifically) and with a broader set of arbitrary traits. Across all studies, the results consistently demonstrated stigma surrounding CNM and a halo effect surrounding monogamy. Implications for future research examining similarities and differences between monogamous and CNM relationships are discussed.
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PIP Most sexually active college students do not use condoms. 213 female and 180 male students of the University of California, Los Angeles, were individually surveyed via questionnaire on their attitudes toward condom acceptability and use and intentions to use them in future sexual activities. Students were also questioned specifically about condom effectiveness against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STD), condom comfort and convenience, interference with sexual pleasure, and the interpersonal consequences of discussing or using condoms. Surveyed students were unmarried, self-proclaimed heterosexuals of mean age 18.6 years recruited from introductory psychology courses. 23% were Asian American, 10% Black, 53% White, and 14% Latino. 73.3% of men and 59.2% of women had experienced sexual intercourse. White students were most likely to have had sexual intercourse (76.7%), while Asian Americans were least likely at least once, yet only 30.6% had done so during their most recent sexual experiences. No significant gender or ethnic differences were found regarding condom use. Respondents felt mildly positive about a condom ability to offer effective protection, but reported a loss of sexual sensation when using condoms. Those with more favorable attitudes toward condoms and positive beliefs about the interpersonal dynamics of condom use reported both higher previous condom use and future intentions to use condoms. Women were more positive about condom use than men. Implications for preventive intervention are discussed.
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PIP Perceptions of persons who introduce condoms in an ongoing sexual interaction, and the effects of gender and ethnicity on these perceptions, were explored in a study involving 243 students at a large, urban university in the western US. 133 of these students identified themselves as Mexican American; the remaining students indicated they were White. A vignette methodology was used to elicit perceptions of condom introducers on six scales (Nice, Exciting, Sexually Attractive, Promiscuous, Good Relationship Partner, Unpersonable/Personable). Data were analyzed in a 2 (gender of participant) x 2 (gender of condom introducer) x 3 (low acculturated Mexican American, high acculturated Mexican American, White) x 2 (presence/absence of close relationship theme) analysis of variance and covariance. In terms of the Nice Scale, women rated condom introducers significantly higher than men, female condom introducers were rated significantly higher than male introducers, and condom introducers who expressed a care and responsibility theme while introducing a condom were rated significantly higher than those who expressed no theme. On the Exciting Scale, women condom introducers were rated significantly higher than men. Condom introducers who expressed a care and responsibility theme were rated significantly higher than those who expressed no theme on the Good Relationship Partner scale. Men rated the female condom introducer significantly higher than women on the Promiscuous scale. Low acculturated Mexicans rated the female condom introducer significantly higher than the male introducer on the Promiscuous scale and rated the condom introducer significantly higher than Whites on the Sexually Attractive scale. These findings attest that many often contradictory interpersonal gender- and ethnicity-related perceptions operate in sexual encounters.
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To assess audio computer-assisted self-interviewing (A-CASI) as a mode of data collection with injecting drug users (IDUs) entering two drug treatment programs in New York City. A-CASI has been found to increase reporting of sensitive items among a variety of population subgroups. A field test of A-CASI data collection conducted within an ongoing cross-sectional study of drug use and HIV risk behaviors among IDUs entering drug treatment. Participants were assigned without bias to either a computer-assisted interviewer-administered personal interview (CAPI) or to a mixed CAPI/A-CASI interview. In the latter, 'sensitive' portions (dealing with stigmatized behavior) of the questionnaire were self-administered through A-CASI, while the remaining portions were interviewer-administered. The Detoxification Program and the Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program (MMTP) at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. Seven hundred and eighty-three IDUs entering drug treatment. Odds ratios and adjusted odds ratios (controlling for demographic differences) for comparison of A-CASI versus CAPI responses on 111 sensitive questions. Twenty-three statistically significant differences (each at P < 0.05), all in the direction of more reporting of the behaviors by the A-CASI group. Forty-one per cent of A-CASI participants said they would prefer any subsequent interviews to be fully A-CASI and 46% said they would prefer the mixed CAPI/A-CASI mode. A-CASI was associated with greater reporting of potentially stigmatized drug, sex and HIV risk behaviors on a moderate number of questions. Moreover, a large majority of participants who used A-CASI would like to be assigned to this method of data collection in future interviews.
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Unfaithful lovers: Heterosexuals' stereotypes of bisexuals
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