Document Type

Article - post-print

Publication Date



Throughout history, the rights of stigmatized minority group members have been subject to popular debate and voter referenda. The impact of the resulting devaluing social discourse on the well-being of minority group members remains unknown. For example, exposure to the discourse leading up to decisions on same-sex marriage may have negative consequences for sexual minority individuals and same-sex couples. We examined the impact of exposure to same-sex marriage campaign messages (e.g., commercials, billboards, yard signs) on the psychological and relational well-being of couples living in the four states that had same-sex marriage voter initiatives in the 2012 general election. Sixty-two same-sex couples (N = 124) completed a baseline survey and 10 daily diary reports during the month before the election. Daily exposure to negative campaign messages was associated with increased negative affect and decreased positive affect and relationship satisfaction. These associations persisted controlling for baseline levels of depression and daily fluctuations in general stress among both members of the couple. Exposure to a devaluing social discourse regarding the rights of same-sex couples represents a unique form of social stress resulting in negative consequences for the psychological and relational well-being of same-sex couples. Thus, the health of same-sex couples may be of particular concern in contexts where marriage policy decisions are pending and the subject of popular debate.

Recommended Citation

Frost, D. M. & Fingerhut, A. W. (2016). Daily exposure to negative campaign messages decreases same-sex couples’ psychological and relational well-being. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 19, 477-492.