The Scientific Study of People Who Are Single:
An Annotated Bibliography

Bella M. DePaulo
Chair, Academic Advisory Board of the Spectrum Institute
Research and Policy Division of the
American Association for Single People (AASP)

January 2, 2004


5. Stigma, Ideology, and Identity

Discrimination, Prejudice, and Stereotyping

Are adults stigmatized because they are single? Are they targets of discrimination, prejudice, and stereotyping? There is a huge literature in psychology on stigma, stereotyping, and related topics. However, except for select subgroups of singles such as divorced people and gay men and lesbians, singles have rarely been the topic of study in this field. Other work in the area can only suggest answers to important questions about the effects of stigma on self-esteem and other personal and interpersonal outcomes; the answers will not necessarily be the same for singles as they are for other devalued groups.

Atkin, D. (1991). The evolution of television series addressing single women, 1966-1990. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 35, 517-523.

Bernard, M. (1985). The rights of single people. NY: Bantam.

Byrne, A. (2000). Singular identities: Managing stigma, resisting voices. Womenís Studies Review, 7, 13-24.

Cargan, L. (1981). Singles: An examination of two stereotypes. Family Relations, 30, 377-385.

Cejka, M. A. (1993). A demon with no name: Prejudice against single women. In M. OíBrien & C. Christie (Ed.), Single women: Affirming our spiritual journey. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.

Clark, R., Anderson, N. B., Clark, V. R., & Williams, D. R. (1999). Racism as a stressor for African Americans: A biopsychosocial model. American Psychologist, 54, 805-816.

Conley, T. D., & Collins, B. E. (2002). Gender, relationship status, and stereotyping about sexual risk. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 1483-1494.

Crandall, C. S., & Eshleman, A. (2003). A justification-suppression model of the expression and experience of prejudice. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 414-446.

Crocker, J. (Guest ed.). (1999). Special issue on social stigma: New perspectives from experimental social psychology. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35 (1). (Entire issue.)

Crocker, J., & Major, B. (1989). Social stigma and self-esteem: The self-protective properties of stigma. Psychological Review, 96, 608-630.

Crocker, J., & Major, B. (1994). Reactions to stigma: The moderating role of justifications. In M. P. Zanna and J. M. Olson (Eds.), The psychology of prejudice: The Ontario symposium (Vol. 7, pp. 289-314). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Crocker, J., Major, B., & Steele, C. (1998). Social stigma. In D. Gilbert, S.T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (4th ed., pp. 504-553). Boston: McGraw Hill.

Deegan, D. Y. (1951). The stereotype of the single woman in American novels: A social study with implications for the education of women. NY: Kingís Crown Press.

Etaugh, C., & Birdoes, L. N. (1991). Effects of age, sex, and marital status on person perception. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 72, 491-497.

Etaugh, C., & Malstrom, J. (1981). The effect of marital status on person perception. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 43, 801-805.

Falk, G. (2001). Stigma: How we treat outsiders. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books. (Chapter 7, "Ex malis eligere minima: Choosing the single life," pp. 151-172.)

Ferguson, S. J. (1991). The old maid stereotype in American film, 1938 to 1965. Film & History, 21, 131-144.

Fiske, S. T. (1993). Controlling other people: The impact of power on stereotyping. American Psychologist, 48, 621-628.

Fowers, B. J., Lyons, E., Montel, K. H., & Shaked, N. (2001). Positive illusions about marriage among married and single individuals. Journal of Family Psychology, 15, 95-109.

Freeman, R., & Klaus, P. (1984). Blessed or not? The new spinster in England and the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Journal of Family History, 9, 394-414.

Fritsch, J. (1989, October 31). Bias against single people is targeted. Los Angeles Times, p. ?.

Gerber, M. S. (October 9, 2002). Eighty million strongĖthe singles lobby. The Hill. p. 45.

Gross, J. (1996, September 8). Gays, singles also targets of adoption rule. Los Angeles Times, pp. A3, A24.

Hillburg, B. (September 16, 2002). AASP fighting laws unfair to single people. Daily News (Los Angeles edition). p. 3.

Holloway, L. (1993, August 16). What? No Husband? Single women join the fight to breach barriers at exclusive country clubs. The New York Times, pp.B1, B5.

Ingraham, C. (1999). White weddings: Romancing heterosexuality in popular culture. NY: Routledge. (Appendix lists state and federal legal marriage rights.)

Jacoby, S. (1974). The truth lies between lechery and loneliness: 49 million singles canít all be right. The New York Times Magazine. (Feb. 17), pp. 12-13, 41, 43, 46-49.

Kaiser, C. R., Major, B., & McCoy, S. K. (in press). Expectations about the future and the emotional consequences of perceiving prejudice. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Kaplan, D. A., & Cohn, B. (1990, September 17). Presumed competent? Newsweek, pp. 32-33. (About Judge Souterís civil status

Krueger, J., Heckhausen, J., & Hundertmark, J. (1995). Perceiving middle-aged adults: Effects of stereotype-congruent and incongruent information. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 50B, 82-93.

Landrine, H., & Klonoff, E. A. (1996). The schedule of racist events: A measure of racial discrimination and a study of its negative physical and mental health consequences. Journal of Black Psychology, 22, 144-168.

Landrine, H., Klonoff, E. A., Gibbs, J., Manning, V., & Ludd, M. (1995). Physical and psychiatric correlates of gender discrimination. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 19, 473-492.

Lau, S., & Gruen, G. E. (1992). The social stigma of loneliness: Effect of target personís and perceiverís sex. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 18, 182-189.

Lee, D. R., & McKenzie, R. B. (1999, February 12). Getting married pays. The Wall Street Journal, p. A16.

Levine, M. P. (1981). Employment discrimination against gay men. In P. J. Stein (Ed.), Single Life: Unmarried Adults in Social Context (pp. 268-273). New York: St. Martinís Press.

Lott, B. (2002). Cognitive and behavioral distancing from the poor. American Psychologist, 57, 100-110.

Madon, S. (1997). What do people believe about gay males? A study of stereotype content and strength. Sex Roles, 37, 663-685.

Major, B. (1994). From social inequality to personal entitlement: The role of social comparisons, legitimacy appraisals, and group membership. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 26, pp. 293-348). San Diego: Academic Press.

Major, B., Gramzow, R., McCoy, S. K., Levin, S., Schmader, T., & Sidanius, J. (2002). Perceiving personal discrimination: The role of group status and status legitimizing ideology. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 782-796.

Major, B., McCoy, S. K., Kaiser, C. R., & Quinton, W. J. (in press). Prejudice and self-esteem: A transactional model. In W. Stroebe & M. Hewstone (Eds.), European review of social psychology.

Major, B., Quinton, W. J., & McCoy, S. K. (2002). Antecedents and consequences of attributions to discrimination: Theoretical and empirical advances. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 34). New York: Academic Press.

Millbank, J. (1997). Every sperm is sacred? Denying women access to fertility services on the basis of sexuality or marital status. Alternative Law Journal, 22, 126-129.

Milligan, J. (2002). Unfair to singles? Singles without children may be shortchanged on benefits. Virginia Business, 17, 23-30.

Morris, W. L., DePaulo, B. M., Hertel, J., & Ritter, L. C. (2003). Perceptions of people who are single: A developmental life tasks model. Manuscript submitted for review. (Available from

Morris, W. L., Sinclair, S., & DePaulo, B. M. (In preparation). The perceived legitimacy of marital status discrimination. (Available from

Munro, G. D., & Ditto, P. H. (1997). Biased assimilation, attitude polarization, and affect in reactions to stereotype-relevant scientific information. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 636-653.

Oberbeck, S. (September 2, 2002). A singular burden: Discrimination against unmarried workers is subtle. The Salt Lake Tribune, B1-B2.

Parmelee, P., & Werner, C. (1978). Lonely losers: Stereotypes of single dwellers. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 4, 292-295.

Smith, H. I. (1988, February). Singles in the workplace: Myths and advantages. Personnel Administrator, 76-81.

Spurlock, J. (1990). Single women. In J. Spurlock & C. B. Robinowitz (Eds.), Womenís Progress: Promises and Problems (pp. 23-33). New York: Plenum Press. (Includes comments on discrimination)

Thornton, A., & Young-DeMarco, L. (2001). Four decades of trends in attitudes toward family issues in the United States: The 1960s through the 1990s. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63, 1009-1037.

Toutkoushian, R. K. (1998). Racial and marital status differences in faculty pay. Journal of Higher Education, 69, 513-529.

Twenge, J. M., & Crocker, J. (2002). Race and self-esteem: Meta-analyses comparing Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and American Indians and comment on Gray-Little and Hafdahl (2000). Psychological Bulletin, 128, 371-408.

Williams, L. (1994, May 29). Childless worker demanding equity in corporate world. The New York Times, pp. 1, 22.

Zonana, V. F. (1990, March 29). Report finds widespread bias against unmarrieds. Los Angeles Times, pp. A1, A26.


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