Perceived Relationship Dissolution and Sexual Orientation of a Hypothetical Ex-Partner as a Threat to Identity


  • Stephen Reysen
  • Iva Katzarska-Miller


We examined the effect of participants’ beliefs regarding origins of sexuality and the sexual orientation of a partner initiating the termination of a relationship on participants’ emotional experience and perceived harm to one’s public identity. Self-identified heterosexual participants who endorsed the belief that sexual orientation is either innate or a choice were asked to imagine that a relationship partner left them for either a same-sex or opposite-sex relationship partner. A mediated moderation analysis showed that, compared to when the ex-partner was straight, participants with a belief that sexual orientation is innate believed the gay ex-partner was not intentionally attempting to harm their public identity and perceived less damage to their public identity, which resulted in less anger.