The unattractive spinster and the boring married man: effects of target sex and marital status on impression formation

Much research indicates that people form impressions of others based on very little information. Previous research suggests that a social stigma exists toward divorced men and women, and there are also a variety of negative stereotypes associated with singlehood in our society. The purpose of this study is to understand how gender and marital status effects the impressions people form of a target person and how those impressions may be linked to a person's social dominance orientation, religiosity, endorsement of sex roles, and attitudes toward divorce. Participants completed personality and attitude measures, and then completed an impression formation task after reading a scenario about a target person. Results indicate that overall positive impressions were formed of divorced individuals, whereas the most socially negative impressions were formed of single women and married men. Findings are discussed in terms of Social Role Theory and changing attitudes toward divorce.