Was that discrimination? Perceptions of bisexual people’s relative status inform attributions of discrimination

Elizabeth A. Quinn-Jensen, Sara E. Burke, Brenda Major, Zoe Liberman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Current models of discrimination fail to account for the fact that many people belong to intermediate identity groups, that is, groups that share characteristics with both a low-status minority and a high-status majority group (e.g., biracial, bisexual), and thus do not occupy one clear position on a status hierarchy. We investigated bisexual targets to test whether perceivers rely on perceived status differentials to determine whether someone faced discrimination. As predicted, whether bisexual people were perceived as victims of discrimination depended on contextual cues about their relative status. Participants expected both gay/lesbian and bisexual individuals to face more discrimination than heterosexual individuals. But they were more likely to say that a bisexual woman who had lost out to a heterosexual woman competitor had faced discrimination compared to a bisexual woman who had lost out to a lesbian woman. These results may help make sense of how real-world discrimination claims are adjudicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • attributions
  • bisexual
  • discrimination
  • prototype model
  • status asymmetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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