Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Single people--Public opinion; Stereotypes (Social psychology); Marital status--Moral and ethical aspects;


Stereotypes can powerfully influence people’s moral judgments. For example, stereotypes of atheists lead people to report immoral behavior as more consistent for atheists than Christians (Wright & Nichols, 2014). When targets are labeled as “obese” or “hippie”, perceivers morally judge them more harshly than targets who are not assigned such labels (Masicampo, Barth, & Ambady, 2014). However, limited research has examined how stereotypes of single people can influence perceivers’ moral judgments. Because of various negative stereotypes people hold about single people (Conley & Collins, 2002; DePaulo & Morris, 2005), it was anticipated that people would morally judge a single target more harshly than a romantically attached target, especially if they were romantically attached themselves. Two hundred and twenty Turkers and 202 college students completed an online study in which they judged how honest 8 people were, based on a description of that person (which included their relationship status) and their behavior in a 2 (relationship status of target) by 2 (neutral vs. dishonest behavior) within-participants design. Participants indicated their own relationship status and were primed to think about that status (e.g., by describing how being in a relationship or being single felt) prior to rating the targets. Across both samples, perceivers judged targets’ dishonest behaviors more harshly than their neutral behaviors, and perceivers also judged single targets more harshly than attached targets. There were no effects for relationship status of the participants, which indicates that single perceivers judged single targets as harshly as attached perceivers. This study provides further evidence of how mixed stereotypes of certain target groups can influence people’s perceptions and judgments of those groups.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Helen C. Harton, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (viii, 85 pages)



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