Perceptions of positive relationship traits in gay and lesbian couples.
Summary (3 min read)
- Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case, especially for those individuals belonging to an outgroup 11, 17, 21, 30 .
- In the current study it was expected that gay, lesbian, and heterosexual couples would be perceived to have different levels of commitment, satisfaction, investments, and closeness, based only on the sexual orientation of the couple.
- One must also recognize that there are numerous other factors that may affect an individual's response to the relationships of others, especially different others.
- To summarize, three major hypotheses were made in the current study.
- It was expected that for perceived levels of commitment, satisfaction, investments, and closeness, college students would perceive the gay couple as having the lowest levels of the qualities, the lesbian couple as having slightly more, and the heterosexual couple as having the highest, also known as Hypothesis 1.
- Conversely, no significant differences in the experimental groups were expected to be found when testing professional counselors, also known as Hypothesis 2.
- It was anticipated that there would be a significant difference in the levels of commitment, satisfaction, investments, and closeness in the gay male and lesbian group as perceived by the student population compared to that of the counselor population, also known as Hypothesis 3.
- This study included two separate participant groups.
- The demographic break down of the participants was as follows: 109 of the participants identified as female, and 107 identified as male.
- The participants' current romantic relationship status was assessed; 46% were currently single, 6% were dating more than one person, 30% were dating one person, 4% were engaged, 7% were cohabiting with their romantic partner, 6% were married, and 1% declined to answer.
- The second participant group consisted of professional counselors and therapists from the Northwestern United States.
- For the female counselors, 21 identified as exclusively heterosexual, 3 as exclusively homosexual, and 37 had mixed responses.
- Participants were asked to read an excerpt from a fictional couple's initial counseling session.
- The first experimental group (student group n = 73, counselor group n = 36) read about a couple with the names John and David, and the second experimental group (student group n = 71, counselor group n = 33) read about a couple with the names Jennifer and Amy.
- Each of the counselors who were asked to review the transcript was licensed to practice counseling and therapy in the state in which the research was developed.
- After they read the transcript, all participants were asked to write a short response to two questions about the couple's relationship.
- To measure perceived commitment, satisfaction, and investment, the participants responded to a seventeen item assessment that was a modified version of the Rusbult, Martz, and Agnew scale 29 .
- For the student participant group the survey occurred in a classroom setting.
- The participants were given 60 minutes to complete the full survey.
- Following the conclusion of the survey the participants were thanked for their time and debriefed regarding the nature of the study.
- The participant group consisting of professional counselors was mailed the survey along with a cover letter and standard consent information.
- The cover letter invited the recipient to participate in the enclosed survey to help the researchers better understand perceptions of people in relationships.
- The first hypothesis expected that for perceived levels of commitment, satisfaction, investments, and closeness, student participants would perceive the gay couple as having the lowest levels of the qualities, the lesbian couple perceived as having slightly more, and the heterosexual couple perceived as having the highest levels.
- A series of one-way analyses of variance were conducted to test Hypothesis 1, one test for each of the four dependent variables (commitment, satisfaction, investment, and closeness).
- As previously mentioned, perception of closeness was measured using the Inclusion of the Other in Self Scale (IOS).
- For means and standard deviations on all four of the dependent variables for both the counselor and student group, please refer to Table 1 .
- In the second hypothesis, no significant differences were expected to be found in perceptions of the three groups when testing professional counselors.
- As with the first hypothesis, a one-way analysis of variance was run for each of the four dependent variables (commitment, satisfaction, investment, and closeness).
- The same pattern held true for investments.
- The gay couple was perceived to be the most invested, followed by the lesbian couple, with the heterosexual couple perceived as significantly less invested than either the gay or lesbian couple.
- As with the student population, no significant differences were found among groups in perceived closeness.
- The third hypothesis conjectured that there would be a significant difference in the levels of perceived commitment, satisfaction, investments, and closeness for the gay male and lesbian groups in the student sample, compared to the counselor sample.
- Paired samples t-tests were completed for each dependent variable.
- No significant difference was found for perceived levels of satisfaction.
- In sum, for investments, commitment, and closeness, the counselors perceived the gay couple to have at least marginally higher levels of these variables than did the student sample.
- First, because prior research had found that gay males were perceived as having less emotional involvement in relationships 5, 20 , it was expected that in this study the student sample would perceive the gay male couple as having the least amount of commitment, satisfaction, investments, and closeness.
- This was not the case as the student sample did not perceive any significant differences between the groups.
- Finally it was hypothesized that students and counselors would perceive different levels of commitment, satisfaction, investments, and closeness in gay, lesbian, and heterosexual couples when these two groups of participants were compared to each other.
- The results of this study imply that may not be the case.
- Impression management was found to be significantly correlated with the professional counselor group's perceived level of satisfaction for the couples.
Implications for Future Research
- The results of this research are intriguing and warrant further study in this area.
- A number of the counselor respondents noted on their survey that they felt that the transcript was too short for them to confidently respond to the questions asked about the couple.
- The field of research in gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender studies is growing steadily 16, 24 .
- It is important that researchers in the social sciences continue research of this nature, not only for the benefit of those individuals in the gay and lesbian communities, but for society in general.
- In order to better understand gay and lesbian couples the authors must also understand how they are perceived.
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Q1. What are the contributions in "Perceptions of positive relationship traits in gay and lesbian couples" ?
The following study examined perceptions of positive traits in homosexual relationships. Implications regarding counselor bias are discussed.