Date of Award

Summer 7-27-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

MS Experimental Psychology




Susan Nolan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Amy Joh, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Susan Teague, Ph.D.


bisexuality, bisexual individuals, biphobia, stereotype implementation, social stigma, perceptions


Research on the stigmatization of the bisexual population is insufficient, as there has been little investigation into the unique stigma and stereotypes of bisexuality and bisexual individuals, as compared with gay, lesbian, or straight individuals, especially within the last 10 years.

Using a 2 (gender: male or female) X 4 (sexual orientation: bisexual same-sex couple, bisexual different-sex couple, straight couple, or gay/lesbian couple) design, I investigated perceptions of bisexuality and bisexual individuals in a sample consisting of straight, gay, and lesbian participants. Social stigma, stereotype belief, and biphobia scales were used to measure stigmatization, stereotype implementation, and general biphobia, respectively, in participants after reading a vignette of a couple on a date.

I found that men’s sexual orientation was more heavily stereotyped and stigmatized, on average, than women’s sexual orientation. In addition, I found that straight couples elicited more social stigma, on average, than bisexual people with a same-sex partner and gay/lesbian couples. Additionally, straight couples elicited more stereotype belief and less tolerance, on average, than all other couples. Finally, straight couples elicited less stability belief in their sexual orientations, on average, compared to bisexual people with a same-sex partner and gay/lesbian couples.

These findings could be a result of social desirability bias, whereby the participants may have answered the assessments in a more socially desirable way, having guessed the true intention of the study. Other explanations for these findings could be that the vignettes served as a successful exposure intervention and that the majority of the participants were from Generation Z, a younger and more tolerant age group. More research is needed to determine whether these findings imply the importance of exposure to marginalized groups in order to reduce stigma.