No shelter for singles: The perceived legitimacy of marital status discrimination

Wendy L. Morris, Stacey Sinclair, Bella M. DePaulo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Providing the first empirical evidence of discrimination against singles, participants in multiple experiments favored married couples over various types of singles and failed to recognize such differential treatment as discrimination. In four experiments, undergraduates and rental agents read descriptions of multiple applicants for a rental property and chose one. The applicant pool, varying across experiments, included a married couple and different types of singles. Although the applicants were similar on substantive dimensions, participants consistently chose the married couple over the singles and explicitly stated that the applicants' marital status influenced their choice. In Experiment 5, participants read examples of housing discrimination against singles and other more recognized stigmatized groups. Participants rated discrimination against singles as more legitimate than discrimination against virtually all of the other groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-470
Number of pages14
JournalGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Discrimination
  • Housing
  • Legitimacy
  • Marital status
  • Singles


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