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


Terri D. Conley, Department of Psychology, 530 Church Street, 1012 East Hall, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, Email:


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.