Romeo and Juliet: Perceptions of Love of Stigmatized Relationships


  • Thomas R. Brooks
  • Stephen Reysen
  • Iva Katzarska-Miller


We examined the connection between the perception of love and stigma in relationships and how much stigma needs to be present to elicit a heightened perception of love. Participants in the first study rated several relationships on the degree of stigma each one of them faced, and how much the individuals in each relationship loved each other—the perception of the Romeo and Juliet effect. In the second study, participants read a scenario of a male, gay relationship with various degree of stigma (none, one, two, or three sources), and rated how much the couple loved each other. The results suggest that there is a perception that the Romeo and Juliet effect exists, despite evidence that does not (Sinclair, Hood, & Wright, 2014). Individuals in relationships, which face stigma from multiple sources, are believed to love each other more than those with no stigma. Together, the results suggest that perceived stigma and love in a relationship are positively associated, which runs counter to better supported models of relationship satisfaction (Parks, Stan, & Eggert, 1983).