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Abstract and Figures

We analyzed personal profiles and records of communication for more than a million nationwide users of a major online dating site. White more than Black, women more than men, and old more than young users stated a preference for a same-race partner. Overall, Blacks, especially Black men, proved more open to cross-race dating than did Whites. More than 80% of the contacts initiated by Whites were to Whites, with only 3% to Blacks. This sharp difference held for men and women and even for those who stated no racial or ethnic preference in their profiles. Blacks were 10 times more likely to contact Whites than Whites were to contact Blacks. Reciprocations to messages showed the same trends, but more moderately.
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Black/White Dating Online: Interracial Courtship in the
21st Century
Gerald A. Mendelsohn, Lindsay Shaw Taylor, Andrew T. Fiore, and Coye Cheshire
University of California, Berkeley
We analyzed personal profiles and records of communication for more than a million
nationwide users of a major online dating site. White more than Black, women more
than men, and old more than young users stated a preference for a same-race partner.
Overall, Blacks, especially Black men, proved more open to cross-race dating than did
Whites. More than 80% of the contacts initiated by Whites were to Whites, with only
3% to Blacks. This sharp difference held for men and women and even for those who
stated no racial or ethnic preference in their profiles. Blacks were 10 times more likely
to contact Whites than Whites were to contact Blacks. Reciprocations to messages
showed the same trends, but more moderately.
Keywords: interracial dating, interethnic courtship, online dating, interpersonal attraction, inter-
group relations
At two in the morning on July 11, 1958, the
bedroom of Richard and Mildred Loving, a
married couple of mixed race, was entered by a
Virginia sheriff and two deputies who arrested
them for violation of the state’s Racial Integrity
Act. Nine years later, the Supreme Court ruled
that antimiscegenation laws were unconstitu-
tional. The ruling came three centuries after the
first antimiscegenation statute was enacted in
the United States. Despite being unenforceable,
antimiscegenation legislation was not finally re-
moved from the books of all 50 states until 2000
when, by a vote of 59% to 41%, it was repealed
in Alabama. Clearly, throughout the country’s
history, interracial couples have had to contend
with a less than friendly environment. Recent
evidence indicates, however, that in the past
four decades there has been a marked change in
attitudes toward marriage between a Black and
a White person. Gallup Poll data collected in
1968 showed that 73% of Americans disap-
proved of interracial marriage, while 20% ap-
proved. The corresponding percentages in 2007
were 17% and 77%, a complete reversal (Car-
roll, 2007). The percentage of Black respon-
dents approving has been consistently higher
than the percentage not approving, but the per-
centages moved from 56% approving versus
33% against in 1968 to 85% versus 10% in
2007. In all groups (White, Black, and His-
panic), the percent approving is a function of
age; nevertheless, in the most recent poll, more
than two thirds of those aged 50 years ap-
proved (Jones, 2011). The change in attitude has
been paralleled by a change in behavior. During
the same 40-year period, the prevalence of
Black–White marriages increased more than
fivefold. Still, 1% of all marriages in the
United States are between a White and a Black
person (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011), a rate well
below what would be expected by chance. Even
among newlyweds in 2008, a group that is on
average considerably younger than the general
population, the percentage of Black–White mar-
riages did not reach 2% (Passel, Wang, & Tay-
lor, 2010).
It is not surprising that the rate of Black–
White intermarriage remains so low despite the
changes in law and attitude, for marriage be-
tween a White and a Black person has long been
a special case in the United States. Only nine
Gerald A. Mendelsohn and Lindsay Shaw Taylor, De-
partment of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley;
Andrew T. Fiore and Coye Cheshire, School of Information,
University of California, Berkeley.
This research was supported in part by the National
Science Foundation, HSD-IIS 0624356.
Andrew T. Fiore is now at Facebook, Inc.
Lindsay Shaw Taylor is self-employed.
Correspondence concerning this article should be ad-
dressed to Gerald A. Mendelsohn, 3210 Tolman Hall,
Berkeley, CA 94720-1650. E-mail:
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This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
Psychology of Popular Media Culture © 2014 American Psychological Association
2014, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2–18 2160-4134/14/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0035357
states, including Hawaii and Alaska, have never
had an antimiscegenation law and it was not
until 1957 that more than half the states were
without one. Although the legal impediments
have been removed, those stemming from ste-
reotypes and prejudice remain in force. The data
on racial intermarriage reviewed by Lee and
Edmonston (2005) suggest, they write, that “so-
cial norms against White–Black marriage were
much stronger than norms against marriages
among the other groups” (p. 13). The research
literature on interpersonal attraction would like-
wise lead to the expectation that romantic rela-
tionships between Blacks and Whites would be
rare. It is well established that proximity and
similarity are positively associated with attrac-
tion and liking (Berscheid & Reis, 1998;Fiske,
2004). Both are likely to be substantially greater
within than between ethnic/racial groups, and
with respect to marriage in the United States,
homogamy is the rule (Blackwell & Lichter,
2004;Passel, Wang, & Taylor, 2010;Rosen-
feld, 2008).
Intermarriage and the courtship that precedes
it are central elements in the processes of as-
similation by minority groups. “Theorists,”
writes Rosenfeld (2002), “have used measures
of intermarriage as the most basic measuring
stick for the social distance between groups and
with good reason” (p. 152). Similarly, Kalmijn
and Van Tubergen (2010) describe intermar-
riage as “an indicator of the degree to which
different groups in society accept each other as
equals” (p. 459). By that standard, it is clear that
to date there has been only limited progress in
the assimilation of African Americans. But,
plainly, attitudes are changing and so too,
thanks to the Internet, is the social environment
in which courtship takes place. Various forms
of social networking that scarcely existed a de-
cade ago are now easily accessible to anyone
with an Internet-connected computer or a smart
phone (Pew Internet & American Life Project,
2010). Increasingly, as the use of online dating
services grows, people whose paths would
never have crossed offline now regularly meet
and have meaningful exchange in the virtual
world. Segregation—in housing, religious wor-
ship, employment, and so forth— has not gone
away, but the restrictions it imposes on the
dating/marriage market can be evaded online.
It is, of course, too early to know whether the
change in possibilities will result in a change of
actualities, but the study of patterns of online
dating can provide more detailed information
about interracial courtship than has hitherto
been available. Studies of online dating have an
important advantage over prior studies that have
largely relied on self-report measures, in that
they allow researchers to focus on actual court-
ing behavior, potentially consequential behav-
ior, rather than on what participants say they
have done or would be willing to do. What
makes online dating behavior particularly inter-
esting is the freedom of choice available to
daters—they are free to state preferences and to
contact and reply to whom they wish in near
anonymity and with no direct intrusion of third
parties. Thus, the data collected from online
dating sites can make a distinctive contribution
to the understanding of intergroup relations and
minority group assimilation in contemporary
American society.
Although in its early stages, a literature on
the role of race and ethnicity in online dating
has begun to accumulate. Studies by Feliciano,
Robnett, and Komaie, 2009;Robnett and Fel-
ciano (2011), and Feliciano, Lee, and Robnett
(2011) made use of a large sample of profiles
collected in four urban areas from heterosexual
users (age 18 –50 years) of a major online dat-
ing site. They reported findings regarding stated
racial/ethnic preferences of White, Hispanic,
African American, and Asian men and women.
Their results show that preferences vary as a
function of ethnicity and gender and their inter-
action. Women and Whites more than men and
African Americans indicated a preference for
partners of their own race, and members of
minority groups were more open to dating
Whites than Whites were to dating them. The
overall pattern of results suggests in their view
that the Black–White boundary is more “rigid”
(Felciano, Lee, & Robnett, 2011, p. 205) than
that between other groups. Findings consistent
with these were reported by Yancey (2007b,
2009), who downloaded about a thousand on-
line profiles from locations across the nation,
and by Sweeney and Borden (2009) in a sample
of young (aged 21–30 years) online daters in
Atlanta. Note that in these studies, the depen-
dent variable of interest was the stated racial/
ethnic preference(s) of participants. Statements
of preference, however, may or may not be in
accord with preferences as revealed in contact
behavior, that is, decisions about whom to con-
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tact and to whom to reply when contacted are
not necessarily consistent with what users state
their preferences to be. There are, to date, only
a few studies that have analyzed contact data,
but those that do confirm the importance of race
and gender in online dating. The online dating
service OkCupid (Rudder, 2009) reported on its
blog that among its users, patterns of respond-
ing to messages depended on the race/ethnicity
of the sender and the recipient. For example,
White women were more likely to respond to
White men than to men of any other race/
ethnicity on the site. A study by Hitsch, Horta-
çsu, and Ariely (2010) conducted in 2003 in two
urban areas demonstrated same-race prefer-
ences for men and, more strongly, for women.
There was, however, an inconsistency between
stated and revealed preferences for women:
Women who stated no preference in regard to
race/ethnicity nevertheless revealed in their be-
havior a strong same-race/ethnicity preference.
Finally, Fisman, Iyengar, Kamenica, and Si-
monson (2008) in a study of speed dating like-
wise provided evidence of a preference for
one’s own race/ethnicity that was stronger in
women than in men. The observed gender dif-
ferences in these studies are consistent with
evolutionary theory, which predicts that women
will be more selective in choosing a mate than
will men (Buss, 2005;Trivers, 1972).
Together, the above studies suggest that (1)
individuals’ decisions about who interests them
as a potential date are strongly influenced by
considerations of race/ethnicity, and (2) what
individuals say they want can differ from what
their behavior reveals about their preferences.
This distinction between stated and revealed
preferences will be of central concern in the
current research. Since the classic studies of
LaPiere (1934), the discrepancy between atti-
tudes and behavior has been amply documented
in the social psychological literature (Fiske,
2004;Kraus, 1995;Wicker, 1969). With respect
to online dating, it is what participants say they
are interested in that has been most readily
accessible to researchers. As yet, we know little
about what they actually do, about what choices
they make when initiating contacts and when
responding to contacts they have received. The
particular strength of the data set we analyzed is
that we have available for each participant in-
formation on both stated preferences and on two
forms of revealed preference, contacts initiated
and contacts reciprocated. Results for each form
of preference are important in their own right,
but to have all three available permits an exam-
ination of the consistencies and inconsistencies
among them. Will, for example, the widespread
acceptance of interracial dating and marriage by
young people documented in recent attitude sur-
veys (Jones, 2011;Keeter & Taylor, 2011)be
manifest in their stated and in their revealed
preferences online?
The goal of the current research was to fur-
ther our knowledge of interracial dating by ex-
amining concurrently the stated and revealed
preferences of Black and White users of a major
online dating site. The study is based on a
nationwide sample of more than a million par-
ticipants who were seeking a date with a mem-
ber of the opposite sex. Whites predominated in
the sample, but there was substantial represen-
tation as well of other racial/ethnic groups,
including Blacks. Given the historical signif-
icance of relations between White and Black
people in the United States and the marked
changes, legal and attitudinal, they have un-
dergone in the last half century, it is on
Black–White dating that we will focus this
initial report. The major questions to be ad-
dressed follow:
1. To what extent do Black and White daters
state an interest in dating (a) members of
their own race, and (b) members of a
race/ethnicity other than their own?
2. To what extent do Black and White daters
initiate contact with persons of their own
race and of a race/ethnicity other than
their own? In particular, what are the rel-
ative rates of Black–Black, Black–White,
White–White, and White–Black contacts
initiated by participants?
3. To what extent do Black and White daters
reciprocate contacts they have received
online from Black and from White per-
4. For each of the questions (1), (2) and (3),
do the results vary as a function of the age
and gender of the participant?
Note that by comparing the answer to the first
question to the answers to questions 2 and 3 we
can reach some conclusions about the consis-
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tency of stated preferences and preferences as
revealed by actual behavior.
We predicted on empirical and theoretical
grounds that greater stated and revealed prefer-
ences for same-race partners will be found (a)
for White than for Black participants, (b) for
women than for men, and (c) for older than for
younger online daters.
We collected online dating profiles and re-
cords of messages exchanged among the owners
of those profiles from a major American online
dating site from February 2009 to February
2010. Through a cooperative agreement with
the dating site, the researchers obtained permis-
sion to parse, store, and aggregate profile con-
tents and message records on a secure server
made available by the dating site. The records
were linked by anonymous ID numbers, which
we used to record sender ID number, recipient
ID number, date, and time for exchanged mes-
sages. At no time were the contents of any
messages available to the researchers.
The profiles contained demographic charac-
teristics, including age, sex, race, religion, edu-
cation, and so forth, both sought and offered,
that is, profile owners described their own char-
acteristics and those desired in an ideal mate.
For each characteristic, online daters could pick
only one value for themselves (i.e., choose one
race/ethnicity from a list) but they could specify
more than one value that would be acceptable in
an ideal mate (i.e., they could select one or
several races/ethnicities and could also select
none from the list). Profiles also included other
information not analyzed in the present work,
including photos and textual self-descriptions
written by the profile owners (see Fiore, Shaw
Taylor, Mendelsohn, & Hearst, 2008).
Sample Characteristics
We report data for Black and White hetero-
sexual users of the site. The sample comprised
more than one million users. The mean age of
the users in this sample was 40.5 years, and the
median was 40 years. Whites constituted 72%
and Blacks 12% of the site’s heterosexual users;
the remaining 16% of users were of other races
or ethnicities, of which the most prevalent
group was Hispanic/Latino (7%).
In the Results section, all data are organized
according to the race (Black vs. White), gender,
and age (young: 20 –39 years, middle: 40 –59
years, or old: 60 years) of the online daters in
our sample.
Variables of Interest
From the data to which we were granted
access on the site logs, we report the following:
Race. As part of their personal profile, us-
ers indicated their own racial/ethnic identifica-
tion by selecting one from among a list of labels
provided by the site. For this article, we selected
only those who self-identified as African Amer-
ican/Black or Caucasian/White.
Stated preferences. Users also specified in
their profiles the race(s)/ethnicity(ies) of their
ideal matches. We divided users into four pos-
sible categories based on their selections: (1)
those who specified only their own race (only
same); (2) those who specified only a group or
groups other than their own (only different); (3)
those who specified more than one race or eth-
nicity, including their own (same and other);
and (4) those who indicated no preferences
(any). Any was the default; users who did not
specify a preference were automatically as-
signed this label. Note that stated preferences
are based on the entire array of racial/ethnic
categories in the profiles, so White users who
are categorized as only different might have
indicated interest in any number of non-White
races/ethnicities, and mutatis mutandis for
Black users.
Contacts initiated. We used the site’s mes-
saging records in conjunction with the personal
profiles to extract data on the racial/ethnic iden-
tification of each unique person with whom a
given user initiated contact. Then we simply
counted the number of times a Black or White
user sent an initial message to a Black or White
recipient. This count included only the first
message sent by a user to a recipient, not any
replies or subsequent messages. We then aggre-
gated the data across all users in each Race
Gender Age Stated Preference category.
The data reported below are presented as per-
centages, that is, the percent of all the contacts
initiated by users in a Race Gender Age
Stated Preference category that went to Black
and to White recipients. This measure allowed
us to examine, for example, whether young
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Black women whose stated preference was any
initiated contacts (i.e., sent unsolicited mes-
sages) to Black men more or less often than they
initiated contacts to White men.
Messages reciprocated. We also used the
site’s messaging records to calculate the per-
centage of contacts received from Black and
from White users to which users replied. Rates
of reciprocation were obtained for each Race
Gender Age Stated Preference subgroup of
users. Counts of contacts reciprocated, as for
contacts received, were based only on the first
contact between users; subsequent messaging
was not included in the totals. This measure
allowed us to determine whether, for example,
young Black males whose stated preference was
only others replied more or less often to Black
than to White users who contacted them.
The results for stated and revealed prefer-
ences are shown in Tables 1–3. Note that in the
text, the term “cross-race” refers specifically to
contacts between White and Black participants.
Stated Preferences
We begin the presentation of results by show-
ing in Table 1 the distribution of stated prefer-
ences for a potential partner’s race or ethnicity.
To orient readers to the table, the entry in the
upper left cell shows that 21% of White men
aged 20 to 39 years stated a preference for only
same. Note that for each Race Gender Age
group, for example, young White males, the
percentages summed across preference catego-
ries total to 100%.
We conducted a series of chi-square analyses
on the data presented in Table 1. The first, and
most general, evaluated a 4 4 contingency
table in which one dimension consisted of the
four gender by race/ethnicity groups (Black fe-
males, White males, etc.) and the second of the
four categories of stated preference (only same,
only different, etc.). A
of 135,799 (df 4,
p.001) was obtained. Subsequent tests like-
wise yielded large
s. In all the comparisons
that follow in the text below, differences were
significant at p.001 or beyond. We found
gender, Black–White, and age differences.
Women (48%) more than men (20%) stated a
preference for a partner of the same race/
Table 1
Stated Preferences (in Percents)
Stated preference Age White males White females Black males Black females
Only same Young 21 43 8 32
Middle 21 53 12 41
Old 29 63 13 40
Across age 21 50 10 36
Across age and gender 32 19
Same and other Young 26 19 25 31
Middle 33 22 30 31
Old 35 20 29 32
Across age 30 21 27 31
Across age and gender 26 28
Only different Young 01 03 06 04
Middle 02 02 08 03
Old 01 00 08 02
Across age 01 02 07 04
Across age and gender 02 06
Any Young 53 35 60 34
Middle 45 24 51 24
Old 35 17 50 26
Across age 48 28 56 30
Across age and gender 40 46
Note. Young 20 –39 years, Middle 40–59 years, Old 60 years. For each Race Gender Age group, for
example, young White males, the percentages summed across stated preference categories total to 100%.
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ethnicity, so, too, did Whites (32%) more than
Blacks (19%) and older more than younger par-
ticipants (young 27%, middle 32%, and
old 43%).
Just 2% of White users stated a
preference for only different. Though still low,
the percentage was higher for Blacks (6%), par-
ticularly for Black men, whose percentage (7%)
was higher than that for Black women (4%).
The difference between genders for White us-
ers, though statistically significant, was 1%. A
higher percentage of Black (46%) than White
(40%) users, of men (49%) than women (28%),
and of young than old users (young 47%,
middle 37%, old 27%) were in the cate-
gory any.
In sum, Whites more than Blacks and women
more than men stated a preference for a partner
of their own race/ethnicity. Black males were
least selective in the sense that the majority of
them stated no preference in regard to the race/
ethnicity of a potential partner. White females,
half of whom sought a partner of their own
race/ethnicity, were the most selective of the
four Race Gender groups.
Contacts Initiated
With the second table, we move from prefer-
ences as stated to preferences as revealed in
behavior. Table 2 shows the percent of contacts
initiated to Black and to White recipients by
people seeking a date. The table is organized by
stated preference, age, race/ethnicity, and gen-
der of the user who initiated the contact. Thus,
for example, the entries in the two upper left
cells indicate that 95% of the contacts initiated
by young White males whose stated preference
was for only same were to White women and
1% to Black women.
The most striking feature of the table is the
difference between the behavior of the White
and the Black users. An overwhelming majority
(85% for females and males combined) of the
When males did indicate an interest in a partner of the
same race/ethnicity, it was less likely to be their only choice
than one of multiple possibilities. The reverse was the case
for females. This gender difference held for both Blacks and
Whites and at all ages.
Table 2
Percent of Contacts Initiated by Black and White Users to Black and White Recipients
Stated preference
of initiator Age of initiator
White male
White female
Black male
Black female
Only same Young 95 01 97 01 07 85 03 94
Middle 95 01 98 00 07 87 03 94
Old 97 00 98 00 07 86 06 92
Across age 95 01 98 01 07 86 04 94
Same and other Young 84 01 85 06 25 54 14 76
Middle 84 01 90 04 26 54 14 79
Old 88 01 95 01 33 54 26 68
Across age 84 01 89 04 26 54 15 77
Only different Young 19 19 13 72 66 07 79 08
Middle 22 18 14 74 72 06 77 09
Old 24 09 46 42 82 06 80 15
Across age 21 18 14 71 70 06 78 09
Any Young 80 03 81 08 45 31 43 44
Middle 80 04 89 05 49 29 31 61
Old 86 03 94 03 56 27 52 41
Across age 80 04 84 07 47 30 40 49
Across age and pref. 83 03 90 05 40 39 22 70
Note. “Recip.” recipients. All percents were calculated within cell: The denominators were the total number of contacts
initiated by each Gender Age Stated preference group and the numerators were the number of those contacts that were
directed to White or Black recipients. Columns in bold type show same-race contacts. Values in the bottom row show the
overall proportions of White and Black men’s and women’s contacts that were sent to White and Black recipients,
collapsing across age and stated preference. Collapsing across gender as well, 85% of the contacts initiated by White
participants were to Whites and 3% were to Blacks; 39% of the contacts initiated by Black participants were to Whites and
48% were to Blacks.
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contacts initiated by Whites were to Whites and
a correspondingly small percent (3%) were to
Blacks. In contrast, fewer than half (45%) the
contacts initiated by Blacks were to other
Blacks, and the percent of cross-race (Black to
White) contacts was 37%. Blacks, that is,
were 10 times as likely to contact a White
person as Whites were to contact a Black per-
son. A 2 2
analysis in which the first
dimension was the race/ethnicity (Black/White)
of the user initiating the message and the second
was the race/ethnicity (Black/White) of the re-
cipient of the contact produced
p.001. Chi-squares of great magnitude were
obtained in separate analyses of the data of the
men and of the women in the sample, as they
were for all of the comparisons cited in the text.
Note that because in the calculation of the chi-
squares, the expected cell frequencies were
based on the marginal values, the greater repre-
sentation of Whites than Blacks in the sample
was taken into account by these analyses. This
is a point of importance because there is a
plausible, but incorrect, explanation of the dif-
ferences between Black and White users based
on the composition of the sample. If, that is,
contacts had been made on a random basis,
White-to-White contacts would necessarily
have predominated and White-to-Black con-
tacts would have been relatively uncommon. By
the same token, however, Black-to-White con-
tacts would have been far more frequent than
Black-to-Black contacts, and that was not the
case. Further, a comparison of obtained and
expected frequencies within cells shows that the
number of messages sent by White users to
White recipients was above the expected values,
and the number sent to Black recipients well
below the expected values. Black users sent
fewer messages than expected to White recipi-
ents and more than expected to Black recipients.
While the distribution of ethnic groups and the
differing range of opportunities available to
Black and White users in the sample probably
figure to some degree in the revealed prefer-
ences reported above, they cannot serve as an
adequate explanation of the findings.
Table 3
Percent of Contacts Reciprocated by Black and White Recipients to Black and White Initiators
Stated preference
of initiator Age of initiator
White male
White female
Black male
Black female
Only same Young 20 10 13 07 14 24 08 15
Middle 24 15 18 11 15 24 10 21
Old 27 18 28 13 13 26 15 27
Across age 23 13 16 09 15 24 09 17
Same and other Young 20 14 14 13 21 21 13 15
Middle 24 18 20 17 23 24 18 22
Old 26 21 30 19 32 30 23 30
Across age 23 17 18 15 22 23 15 17
Only different Young 15 32 06 21 28 11 22 9
Middle 17 29 09 27 31 15 26 13
Old 17 31 23 35 42 28 17 19
Across age 16 30 08 23 30 14 23 10
Any Young 20 16 21 18 25 20 21 16
Middle 24 23 19 15 28 22 21 20
Old 27 25 29 19 31 23 28 28
Across age 23 20 21 17 26 21 21 17
Across age and pref. 23 19 18 16 25 22 17 17
Note. “Recip.” recipients. All percents are calculated within cell by dividing the number of reciprocations by the
number of contacts received for each subgroup. Columns in bold type show reciprocations to same-race senders. Values in
the bottom row show the overall reciprocation rates for White and Black men and women to White and Black initiators,
collapsing across age and stated preference. Collapsing across gender as well, White participants reciprocated 19% of the
contacts received from Whites and 16 percent of the contacts received from Blacks; Black participants reciprocated 20%
of the contacts received from Whites and 19% of the contacts received from Blacks.
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Twelve percent of the contacts initiated by
White and 19% by Black users were to mem-
bers of races or ethnicities other than Black or
White (hereafter referred to as “other”). Here,
too, there was a difference in the behavior of
White and Black users. When White users did
initiate a contact to someone not of their own
race, it was more often to another (12%) than to
a Black person (3%), but when Black users did
so, chances were about two to one that it would
be to a White person. The direction of the
difference was the same across genders for both
Black and White participants, but the effect was
far stronger for White males than for White
For both Blacks and Whites, the percentages
shown in Table 2 vary as a function of gender
and age, but they do not vary in the same
direction. For Black women, same-race contacts
exceeded cross-race contacts (70% vs. 22%);
there was scarcely any difference for Black men
(39% vs. 40%). Among Whites, the strong pre-
ponderance of same-race to cross-race contacts
held for both genders. With respect to age, the
percentage of same-race contacts was higher for
old (91%) than for young (84%) Whites, but
among Black participants, same-race contacts
were higher for young (44%) than old (42%)
users, and younger Blacks were more likely to
initiate contact to a same- than to a cross-race
Inspection of Table 2 shows that patterns of
revealed preferences varied across the four cat-
egories of stated preference. Users whose stated
preference was for same only were true to their
word. In this group of online daters, the per-
centage of same-race contacts initiated by
White women was 98%, by White men 95%, by
Black women 94%, and by Black men 86%.
Users whose stated preference was for different
only were likewise true to their word. In this
group, cross-race (Black–White) contacts were
the choice of Black females (78%), White fe-
males (72%), and Black males (70%), but not of
White males (18%) who instead initiated the
majority (61%) of their contacts to members of
races or ethnicities other than Black or White.
Of the four categories of stated preference,
the greatest interest, we think, attaches to the
behavior of the users in the category any, the
users who, in effect, indicated an indifference to
race. Although they gave no stated prefer-
ence(s), White users in this category revealed in
their behavior a strong preference for members
of their own race. The percentages of same-race
contacts were 84% for women and 80% for
men, and cross-race contacts were, respectively,
7% and 4%. The percentages of same- and
cross-race contacts initiated by Blacks who
specified any were not nearly as discrepant.
Black women were more likely to contact
a Black than a White man (49% vs. 40%), but
for Black men cross-race contacts were more
frequent than same-race contacts (47% vs.
30%). Overall in the category any, Black users
were seven times more likely to contact a White
person than White users were to contact a Black
To evaluate these differences, we formed a
42 contingency table in which one dimen-
sion was the race/ethnicity by gender group
(Black female, etc.) of the user who initiated the
contact and the second was the classification of
the recipient of the contact as same- or cross-
race. The analysis of the frequency data in the
table produced a
of greater than one million,
p.0001. A comparison of the expected and
obtained frequencies within cells shows that
cross-race contacts were lower than expected
for White and higher than expected for Black
participants, while same-race contacts were
higher than expected for White and lower than
expected for Black participants. This pattern of
results was the case for both genders in both
racial/ethnic groups.
Inspection of Table 2 makes it clear that the
disinclination of Whites to contact members of
other races or ethnicities, in particular Blacks,
was true at all ages, including among young
users. Summing across categories of stated pref-
erence and gender, 4% of the contacts initiated
by younger White users were to Black recipi-
ents. This is higher than the percent initiated by
older users, but by only 2%.
The analyses of the data on contacts initiated
leads to these conclusions: In the sample as a
whole, same-race contacts predominated, but
with marked differences between the behavior
of White and Black users. The probability of
initiating a cross-race contact was substantially
greater for Blacks than for Whites. Further,
whereas White men and White women behaved
in a similar fashion, Black men and women did
not. A distinct majority of Black women fa-
vored same- over cross-race contacts, while,
in contrast, Black men favored cross- over
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same-race contacts by a small margin. There
are sound empirical grounds for having con-
fidence that these conclusions are not an ar-
tifact of the preponderance of White users and
profiles in the population under study.
Messages Reciprocated
In Table 3, we present a second and equally
important measure of revealed preferences—
reciprocation data. Initiating a contact is, in
effect, an invitation to which one may or may
not receive a response; the communication is
unidirectional. It is with a reciprocation that the
communication becomes personalized and bidi-
rectional, that a relationship, whatever its dura-
tion, has begun. Thus, this second measure of
revealed preferences builds on the first, contacts
initiated, in that it indexes behavior at a differ-
ent, subsequent stage of the relationship. It is a
point of some interest, consequently, whether
the patterns of White–Black reciprocation differ
in any important ways from the pattern ob-
served for the data on the initiation of contact.
Table 3 shows the percent of contacts received
by users to which they responded. The entry in
the upper left cell, for example, indicates that
young White males who stated a preference for
only same reciprocated 20% of the contacts
initiated to them by White women. Note that
because of the way this measure was derived,
that is, as a percentage of messages received,
differences in the representation of Whites and
Blacks in the study population could not have
affected its calculation.
Before examining the data entered in Table 3,
it is useful to establish a point of reference: the
rate of reciprocation in the population as a
whole was 0.19. Two general results should also
be noted. First, women reciprocated contacts at
a lower rate than men (17% vs. 23%) and sec-
ond, rates of reciprocation increased with age
(young 17%, middle 19%, and old
27%), the rate rising more sharply for women
than for men. These results held for both Black
and White users. Black men were a bit more
likely than White men to reply to a contact
(24% vs. 23%) but the rates of Black and White
women differed by a negligible 0.1%.
The analysis of the first measure of revealed
preferences, contacts initiated, showed that
White users by a large margin preferred a part-
ner of their own race to a partner of a race or
ethnicity other than their own; White-to-Black
contacts, in particular, were rare. Black users by
a smaller margin were also more likely to con-
tact someone of their own than of another eth-
nicity, but cross-race (Black to White) contacts
were much more probable for Black than for
White users. The reciprocation data parallel the
initiation data for White participants. They re-
ciprocated 19% of the messages received from
Whites and 16% of the messages received from
Blacks. The difference between proportions was
significant at z59.66, p.001. Unless oth-
erwise noted, large, highly significant zscores
were obtained for all the comparisons that fol-
low. The two measures of revealed preference,
contacts initiated and contacts reciprocated, did
not, as they did for Whites, vary in the same
direction for Blacks: in contrast to their behav-
ior in the initiation of contacts (same race
cross race), Black users reciprocated a higher
percent of the messages received from Whites
(20%) than from Blacks (19%). This result was
due to Black men, who reciprocated 25% of the
messages from White and 22% of the messages
from Black women; the difference between
same- and cross-race reciprocations for Black
women was miniscule and statistically insignif-
icant. The finding that cross-race reciprocations
were more probable for Blacks (19%) than for
Whites (16%), a finding that holds for both
genders, is consistent in direction with the data
on the initiation of contacts. Although there was
consistency in direction across the two mea-
sures, a comparison of Table 3 to Table 2 shows
that the effect was stronger for contacts initiated
than for contacts reciprocated: Whites were
26.5 times more likely to contact a White than a
Black person, but only 1.2 times more likely to
reciprocate to a White than to a Black person.
Black users not only reciprocated to Whites
more than Whites did to Blacks, they also re-
ciprocated more to others (20%) than did
Whites (17%). Here, too, the direction of dif-
ference is the same for reciprocations as for
initiations and the effect is less strong for the
former than for the latter.
Inspection of Table 3 shows that reciproca-
tions were to some extent a function of stated
preferences. Users who stated a preference for
same only or different only were, as with con-
tacts initiated, true to their word, and this was
the case for Blacks and for Whites of both
genders and at all ages. Again, the behavior of
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the users who indicated an indifference to the
race or ethnicity of a partner is of particular
interest. For White users of both genders whose
stated preference was any, same-race exceeded
cross-race reciprocations, including for the
young. That is consistent with the data for con-
tacts initiated, though the differences were more
moderate in the reciprocation than in the contact
data. There was less consistency between the
two measures of revealed preference for Blacks
of either gender whose stated preference cate-
gory was any. Black women reciprocated more
to Whites (21%) than to others (19%) and least
to Blacks (17%) even though they initiated con-
tacts more to Blacks than to Whites and least to
others. In one important regard, the pattern of
reciprocations for Black men, other (29%)
greater than White (26%) greater than Black
(21%), does resemble the pattern of contacts
initiated: On both measures the percent for
cross-race was greater than the percent for
To summarize, on both measures of revealed
preference, Black users showed more interest in
cross-race dating than did White users. This was
the case for men and women, for the young and
even for those (in the category any) whose
stated preferences indicated an indifference to a
partner’s ethnicity. The size of the differences
between White and Black participants was
much greater in the initiation than in the recip-
rocation data.
The primary source of systematic quantita-
tive data on romantic relationships between
Blacks and Whites in the United States has been
the decennial reports of the U.S. Census Bu-
reau. By their nature, Census data are informa-
tive about the later stages of relationship forma-
tion, marriage, and/or cohabitation, but are mute
with respect to the events that preceded them. A
number of researchers have pointed out that
marriage and dating differ in several ways, of
which the most important is that dating does not
entail the serious and public commitment that
marriage does (Blackwell & Lichter, 2004;Gar-
cia & Rivera, 1999;Liu, Campbell, & Condie,
1995;McClintock, 2010;Sweeney & Borden,
2009;Tucker & Mitchell-Kernan, 1995;Wil-
son, McIntosh, & Insana, 2007;Yancey, 2002).
There is a literature, not an extensive one, on
interethnic dating that is based primarily on
retrospection and self-report. The samples in
these studies are typically of modest size, nar-
rowly localized, and limited to young people.
They do suggest that ethnocentrism is charac-
teristic of dating, but that interethnic dating is
not uncommon, especially among men; there is
little specifically about Black/White dating
(Clark-Ibanez & Felmlee, 2004;Firmin & Fire-
baugh, 2008;Knox, Zusman, Buffington, &
Hemphill, 2000;Levin, Taylor, & Caudle,
2007;Liu et al., 1995;Martin, Bradford, Drze-
wiecka, & Chitgopekar, 2003;McClintock,
2010;Todd, McKinney, Harris, Chadderton, &
Small, 1992;Yancey & Yancey, 1998). The
increasingly widespread use of online dating
services, however, has provided a new source of
data that can, as in this study, be used to sub-
stantially expand our knowledge of interracial
To establish context, we should briefly re-
view the main findings in regard to patterns of
interracial and interethnic marriage by Whites
and Blacks. Blacks are more likely than Whites
to be married to a spouse of a different race or
ethnicity (U. S. Census, cited in Lee & Edmon-
ston, 2005), and the recent Pew Research Center
report previously cited (Passel, Wang, & Tay-
lor, 2010) indicates that this historical trend
continues to be the case. Rates of intermarriage
for White men and women are nearly the same,
but there is an important gender difference
among Blacks; Black men are much more likely
than Black women to be married to someone of
a race or ethnicity not their own. And with
respect specifically to Black/White marriages,
the ratio of Black husband/White wife to White
husband/Black wife couples approaches two to
one (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011).
Though marriage could perhaps be regarded
as the ultimate measure of revealed preference,
marriage as it is currently practiced in the
United States depends on a joint decision, the
coming together of two chains of preference
that play out sequentially and interactively.
The links in the chain are of many kinds—
physical appearance, education, religion, and so
forth—and, as our data show, race. The se-
quence begins with decisions about the charac-
teristics of the partner sought, represented in
this study by the statements of racial and ethnic
preferences in the profiles posted by the users.
The predictions that Whites more than Blacks,
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women more than men, and older more than
younger users would show a preference for dat-
ing partners of their own race were confirmed
by the results for stated preferences.
The pre-
dictions were based on the census data, results
of the available studies of interethnic dating,
and the well-established finding in the evolu-
tionary literature that women are more selective
than men in their choice of a mate (Buss, 2005;
Trivers, 1972).
The predictions were confirmed as well by
the results for the first measure of revealed
preferences, contacts initiated. The direction of
the differences between White and Black users
is not at all surprising. It is, rather, the magni-
tude of the differences that is impressive. A
White contacting a Black was a low probability
event—just 3 of a 100 contacts initiated by
Whites were to Blacks, though Blacks consti-
tuted 12% of the sample. In contrast, more than
a third of the contacts initiated by Blacks went
to Whites. Those are not minor effects. Evi-
dently, Whites are just not interested in dating
Blacks. The data reveal that this was true at all
age levels. That members of the generation that
came to maturity after the successes of the civil
rights movement and after the demise of anti-
miscegenation laws were so little different in
their preferences (both stated and revealed)
from the generations that preceded them was
not necessarily expectable. Whatever surveys
may show about the attitudes of millenials and
members of Generation X (Jones, 2011;Keeter
& Taylor, 2011), the evidence from both mar-
riage and online data suggest that in contrast to
what they say, they are like their predecessors in
what they do.
What about users who stated no racial or
ethnic preferences? Was their stated indiffer-
ence to race and ethnicity reflected in their
behavior? The answer for Whites is that it was
not, for even among those who specified no
preference, contacts to Whites predominated
greatly and contacts to Blacks were at a low
level irrespective of age. In contrast, a majority
of the contacts initiated by Black users in the
category any were to members of races or eth-
nicities other than their own, including Whites.
Finally, it should be noted that the gender dif-
ferences among Black users—men being less
likely than women to initiate same-race con-
tacts—are consistent with the marriage data
summarized above.
White users not only initiated a higher per-
centage of their contacts to members of their
own race, they were also more likely to recip-
rocate a contact from a White than from a Black
initiator. The difference in the rates of same-
and cross-race reciprocations was not, however,
nearly as extreme as the difference obtained for
contacts initiated. Black users, in fact, were as a
group more likely to reciprocate a message from
a White person than from a Black person,
though this overall effect was due to the males.
White users who stated an indifference to race
and ethnicity nevertheless reciprocated at a
higher rate to Whites than to Blacks or others,
but Blacks, both male and female whose stated
preference was any reciprocated at a higher rate
to Whites and others than to Blacks. This was
for the women a reversal of the pattern for
messages initiated.
For those who believe that increased rates of
intermarriage would be a social gain, an impor-
tant step in overcoming centuries of racism, the
results of this study bring both encouraging and
discouraging news. A substantial percentage of
Blacks, it is clear, was open to and interested in
romantic relationships with Whites. Whites,
however, both in their stated and revealed pref-
erences did not show a comparable interest in
dating Blacks. True, their reluctance to initiate
contacts to Blacks was more extreme than their
reciprocation behavior, which though also fa-
voring Whites over Blacks did so at a more
moderate level. One might have assumed from
examining the initiation data that the probability
of a White user reciprocating a contact from a
Black person would be low but that proved not
to be the case. There is, it seems, an important
psychological difference between deciding to
initiate a cross-race contact and deciding
whether or not to respond to one: The former
requires actively crossing a boundary, but the
latter does not, for the boundary has already
been crossed. Instead of the potentially inhibit-
ing uncertainty about how a cross-race message
will be received, it is clear that a cross-race
relationship, specifically with you, the recipient,
is of interest to the person who made the con-
tact. To step across the boundary, that is, is
Note in this regard that a significantly higher percent of
men than women indicated an indifference to the ethnicity
of a partner, that is, were in the category any.
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more difficult than to respond to someone who
has already done so. Nevertheless, because us-
ers received many more same-race than interra-
cial contacts, when both contacts received and
rates of reciprocation were taken into account,
we found that the percentage of all reciproca-
tions by Whites that went to Blacks was about
5%. The percent of reciprocations from Blacks
to Whites was about 30%, and, overall, just 7%
of reciprocations involved a Black/White pair.
The direction of the major difference between
Black and White users—Whites more than
Blacks were interested in dating members of
their own race—was found for all three of the
measures of preference. At the same time, there
were discrepancies among the measures both in
magnitude and direction that raise an important
methodological point for studies of dating,
namely that stated preferences, contacts initi-
ated, and contacts reciprocated are related but
not interchangeable measures. For example,
young White individuals who stated an indiffer-
ence to the race or ethnicity of a partner were, in
fact, highly selective in their revealed prefer-
ences; 85% of the contacts they initiated were to
Whites and 3% to Blacks. Were they hypocrit-
ical, alert to the realities of the social world,
striving for political correctness, attempting an
optimizing strategy of self-presentation? Our
data do not permit us to choose among those
alternatives, but the disparity between what was
said and what was done make predictions about
the future difficult. Judging from their stated
preferences, the younger generation will be a bit
more open to intermarriage than their predeces-
sors. Judging from their behavior, change is
likely to be a slow process.
Because, as we have seen, preferences vary
as a function of race, age, and gender and dif-
ferent measures of preference do not necessarily
yield the same results, it is difficult to compare
our findings with those of studies that do not
take account of those distinctions. Is there, for
example, a same-race preference, stronger in
women than in men, as suggested by some
previous research? In our data, yes and no.
Whites initiated a large majority of their con-
tacts to members of their own race, but with
only a minor difference between men and wom-
en. Black men, however, initiated a higher per-
centage of their contacts to Whites than to
Blacks. Meanwhile, a majority of young men
and a third of young women stated no racial or
ethnic preferences, while older users, women
more than men, did state a same-race prefer-
ence. There is a devil lurking in the details. It is,
perhaps for that reason, that our findings do not
support the conclusions about the dating behav-
ior of White and Black users published on the
OkCupid blog. The dismal portrait of the situ-
ation of Black women presented by OkCupid,
for example, “every race—including other
Blacks—singles them out for the cold shoulder”
(Rudder, 2009, italics original), has received a
good deal of public notice (see, e.g., Coates,
2010). But our data paint a different picture;
more than half the reciprocations of Black men
were to Black women, and that was true in all
age groups. That White men show little interest
in dating Black women is not a point of con-
Access to the Internet has continued to rise
among all social groups in the past several
years (Jones & Fox, 2009;Pew Internet &
American Life Project, 2010) and social net-
working has become a commonplace. Online
dating is now a well-established mode of
finding a romantic partner (Rosenfeld &
Thomas, 2012); testimony to its role in the
formation of long-term relationships is plen-
tiful. Rosenfeld and Thomas report that in
2010, 21% of heterosexual partners in their
sample met on the Internet, a percentage ap-
proaching that of the leader, met through
friends. This is all to say that it is increasingly
reasonable to have confidence in the general-
izability to offline behavior of findings from a
large sample of users of an online dating site
such as ours. We must acknowledge some
problems, however. As we pointed out, the
findings of the present study are not always in
agreement with the findings of other studies
of online dating sites. That is, in part, because
of differences in methodology and sampling,
but undoubtedly differences among online
sites also contribute. Some sites cater to spe-
cific populations, some attempt to use a
matching algorithm to pair users or to assess
compatibility. On almost every dating site,
the pool of profiles the site makes most read-
ily visible to a user is at least somewhat
influenced by the user’s stated preferences.
This may make exposure to out-group mem-
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bers less likely unless the user explicitly
seeks it. Some, like eHarmony, present only
the top matches as determined by the site, not
allowing users to search freely for other pro-
files. The site from which our data come
included both searching and matching func-
tionality but put little emphasis on metrics of
compatibility and did not constrain users from
freely searching or browsing profiles. Thus,
relative to other sites, it provides a service
that is more like an open market for potential
dating partners than a guided tour of the pos-
sibilities. Moreover, the sample is nation-
wide, with no restrictions of city, state, or
region. Still, the question remains of the ex-
tent to which our results can be generalized to
offline behavior. A direct empirical compari-
son between dating online and in the flesh
might be useful, but note that in their overall
outlines our preference data, stated and re-
vealed, are similar to the census data on
Black/White marriage and cohabitation and to
the available data from offline studies of in-
terracial dating. All show, for example, that
Blacks, men especially, are far more willing
than Whites to form interracial romantic re-
lationships. The similarity of the findings
across these three sources of data gives reason
to believe that the results of the present study
of online dating are informative about the
contemporary state of interracial courtship
more generally.
The observed similarity between online and
offline behavior has another important impli-
cation. We pointed out in the introduction that
because of segregation, the proximity of
Whites and Blacks is sharply limited, but that
in the social environment of the Internet, seg-
regation, at least in its physical sense, is not a
factor. To find, then, that the patterning of
romantic relationships between Whites and
Blacks is so similar in these two different
social environments suggests that, in effect,
segregation is as much a psychological phe-
nomenon, a state of mind, as it is a physical
Theoretical Implications
Despite the recognition that there are impor-
tant differences between dating and marriage, it
remains the case, as Tucker and Mitchell-
Kerman observed in 1995, that we lack theories
of interracial/ethnic dating as such. Instead, the
theoretical questions and approaches character-
istic of studies of interracial dating have been
imported from the literature on interracial mar-
riage. That theorizing has generally followed an
exchange approach to the explanation of inter-
marriage. The core assumption of exchange ap-
proaches is that during courtship members of
each race trade resources (power, money, good
looks, education, etc.) in an effort to maintain
and enhance social position. However, the
validity of this assumption and its empirical
standing have recently been questioned by re-
searchers. Rosenfeld (2005,2010) argues that
the predominant exchange-based interpretive
framework, status-exchange theory (Davis,
1941;Merton, 1941), is not empirically well-
supported. But it does seem to be the case that
in a structural sense, Blacks profit more from an
interracial relationship than do Whites. Robnett
and Felciano (2011) observe, “Whites . . . have
little to gain by dating minorities unless the
latter can elevate their economic status” (p.
808), which given the income and educational
disparities in the United States, they are un-
likely to do on average. It is not clear, then, just
what is being exchanged for the higher status of
Whites. And it is likewise puzzling, given the
evidence that Black women are having diffi-
culty finding suitable mates of their own race
(Banks, 2011;Dixon, 2009), that it is Black
men rather than Black women who show the
stronger preference for interracial dating (and
marriage). Theoretically, the gender experienc-
ing a shortage of marriageable in-group mem-
bers should be more, not less, inclined toward
outmarriage (Blau & Schwartz, 1984;Craig-
Henderson, 2006;Kalmijn & Van Tubergen,
Yancey (2009) takes the position that since
African Americans “are not allowed to partici-
pate in the majority culture” (p. 121), their
alienation leads to a rejection of dating exoge-
nously. However, our data, particularly the re-
ciprocation data, do not confirm his argument.
To the extent that assimilation theory (like Gor-
don, 1964) assumes that “assimilation is inevi-
table for all minority groups, regardless of
whether minorities are racially or ethnically de-
fined” (Qian, 2002, p. 44), it, too, is not well
supported by our data or by others’ evidence on
Black/White marriage or dating. Perhaps that
should not be surprising. Studies of assimilation
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have, until recently, focused primarily on im-
migrants of European origin. The ancestors of
African Americans, however, did not come to
this country voluntarily to seek freedom or eco-
nomic improvement. Our current conceptions of
assimilation may be of limited relevance to a
population originally enslaved, chronically den-
igrated, and for most of its history systemati-
cally excluded from political and economic
power. If the formation of intimate relationships
is a key marker of assimilation, the evidence
suggests that the “inevitable” is not yet happen-
ing with respect to revealed preferences, even
though attitudes and stated preferences have
clearly become more inclusive. In sum, we con-
clude that there is not a good fit between the
data and extant theories of interracial dating.
Robnett and Felciano (2011) reach a similar
conclusion and point to “the need for better
understanding of the ways in which racialized
masculinities and femininities are constructed
(p. 819)”.
Whatever the state of the theoretical liter-
ature on interracial dating, empirically one
finding stands out: A substantial percentage
of Black daters are open to a relationship with
someone of a different race or ethnicity, but
the great majority of White daters are not.
Perhaps “with little to gain” and a good deal
to risk in the reaction of third parties
(Kalmijn, 1998), particularly family and
friends (Bratter & King, 2008;Childs, 2005;
Craig-Henderson, 2006;Harris & Kalbfleisch,
2000;Lehmiller & Agnew, 2006;Levin et al.,
2007;Lewis, 1994;Miller, Olson, & Fazio,
2004;Troy, Lewis-Smith, & Laurenceau,
2006;Wang, Kao, & Joyner, 2006;Yancey,
2007a), endogamy is much the easier course
for a White person to follow. But the question
of why Whites, even as their stated prefer-
ences become more open, are unwilling to
venture away from a partner of their own
race, particularly to a Black person, is not one
about which we have much empirical infor-
mation. Theories of social identity, in-group
favoritism, and racism (e.g., Devine, 1989;
Dovidio, 2001;Dovidio & Gaertner, 1998;
Tajfel, 1982;Tajfel, Billig, Bundy, & Fla-
ment, 1971) might well be relevant but there
is to date little application of such theories to
courtship behavior. A desire to maintain the
power and status relationships that work to
their advantage (Fang, Sidanius, & Pratto,
1998) may play a role as well. A better un-
derstanding of the revealed preferences of
Whites is, however, a matter of some impor-
tance because the dominant group in society
is effectively the gatekeeper whose choices
can promote or impede intermarriage. Assim-
ilation requires the cooperation of what is
conventionally called in the assimilation lit-
erature the “host society,” and that has not
been forthcoming. Despite the changes in the
law and in attitudes during the past half cen-
tury, it would be premature to conclude that
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Accepted August 20, 2013
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... Is there a correspondence between racial dating preferences people state and racial dating preferences people reveal by their search and contact behaviour? The studies by Anderson et al. (2014) and Mendelsohn et al. (2014) are rare pieces that aim to address this question. Mendelsohn and colleagues examined jointly stated and revealed racial preferences of white and black daters drawing on data from more than a million users of nationwide dating site in the US. ...
... Link/gap between stated and revealed race preferences and the role of sex, race, and political ideology Mendelsohn et al. (2014) OD site in the United States, nationwide sample of users (> 1 million. users) of a major dating site, period 2009-2010 ...
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... In the economy of romance, reciprocity is not always an outcome in e-dating, as a variety of new exchange narratives are generated in, for example, Black/white dating exchanges [11]. Exchange narratives intrude in the relationship in the form of competition, altruism, status consistency and group gain. ...
... Exchange narratives intrude in the relationship in the form of competition, altruism, status consistency and group gain. Mendelsohn [11] observes further that interracial couples in the US and other modern societies have very similar socioeconomic status, education levels, and social class level; yet, the competitive narratives their romantic encounters generate minimize the imperative of reciprocity. Nevertheless, most relationships do not end up with intimacy and happiness online but with a sense of frustration, exhaustion and disappointment [9]. ...
Millions of single adults use dating websites like eHarmony,,, and technologies like the mobile dating app Tinder to seek out online partners. Some daters succeed, but most of them fail in the end and become dissatisfied. The online technology presents with many advantages such as easy access to multitudes of potential dates; however, the problematic is that, as a metanarrative of dating power, ICTs do not function in a virtual vacuum but are constructed by the social experience of people in love and sexuality, for example, in African indigenous and modern societies ǎ la longue durée. The online dating industry often disembeds this social experience from its services and this constitutes, paradoxically, its major flaw. Consequently, the industry is designed narrowly to rationalize romanticism as a scientific algorithm that follows particular rules and regulations instead of proposing the complex character of knowledge about dating to prospective daters and this constitutes a serious menace to its long term sustainability. These technodigital flaws have to do with the paradox of virtual rationalism, lack of commitment in online daters, who do not meet offline; shallowness and fatigue in the mindset of online singles, scamming, lies telling, identity theft and stalking, mismatching from algorithms between singles and so on. Drawing critical insights from the structuralist positionality of George Homans’ social exchange theory and from critiques of romance stories, the paper suggests that, in this age of the knowledge economy, e-dating should become a productive service that minimizes the artificiality of economic rationalism embedded in digital contacts, profile browsing, algorithmic matching, the reading of love by apps and tread lightly on all forms of economic determinism. e-Dating should prioritize tacit knowledge from critical literature narratives that can enable us to suggest new humanistic functionalities for skype, ch
... In the knowledgeeconomy of romance, reciprocity is not always an outcome in e-dating, as a variety of new exchange narratives are generated in, for example, Black/white dating exchanges (Mendelsohn 2014). Exchange narratives intrude in the relationship in the form of competition, altruism, status consistency and group gain. ...
... Exchange narratives intrude in the relationship in the form of competition, altruism, status consistency and group gain. Mendelsohn (2014) observes further that interracial couples in the US and other modern societies have very similar socioeconomic status, education levels, and social class level; yet, the competitive narratives their romantic encounters generate minimize the imperative of reciprocity. Nevertheless, most relationships do not end up with intimacy and happiness online but with a sense of frustration, exhaustion and disappointment (Ben Zeev 2004). ...
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... Could it be the case that the increased risk of arrest for People of Color is partly explained by reduced access to online workers?People of Color have been extensively studied in the context of online dating. The research shows that Men of Color experience disadvantages in both gay and straight online dating contexts(Bany, Robnett, and Feliciano 2014;Feliciano, Robnett, and Komaie 2009;Lin and Lundquist 2013;Mendelsohn et al. 2014;Robnett and Feliciano 2011;Smith 2014;Wade and Harper 2021;Wade and Pear 2022). This type of discrimination whether subtle or overt, has a significant negative effect on those experiencing it ...
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... In a dating context, the similarity hypothesis operates similarly to ingroup favoritism. People often prefer to date others who share their social group identities on a variety of dimensions, including race, religion, and political orientation (Alford, Hatemi, Hibbing, Martin, & Eaves, 2011;Brown, McNatt, & Cooper, 2003;Huber & Malhotra, 2017;Luo, 2009;Mendelsohn, Shaw Taylor, Fiore, & Cheshire, 2014;Montoya, Horton, & Kirchner, 2008;Watson et al., 2004). We argue that for most sexual identity groups, a similar ingroup preference manifests. ...
Bisexual people may appear to have more potential romantic partners than people only attracted to one gender (e.g., heterosexual, gay, lesbian people). However, bisexual people's dating choices are limited by non-bisexual people's reluctance to date bisexual people. Studies have indicated that some heterosexual, gay, and lesbian people are reluctant to date bisexual people, particularly bisexual men. We extend current understandings of gendered anti-bisexual bias through investigating heterosexual, bisexual, gay, and lesbian people's reported willingness to date within and outside of their sexual orientation groups. Participants (n = 1823) varying in sexual orientation completed measures regarding their willingness to engage in a romantic relationship with heterosexual, bisexual, gay, and lesbian individuals. Heterosexual and gay/lesbian people were less willing to date bisexual people than bisexual people were to date them, consistent with anti-bisexual bias rather than mere in-group preference. Preferences against dating bisexual men appeared particularly strong, even among bisexual women.
... There are also distinct patterns along race and class lines on dating apps (Curington, Lundquist, and Lin 2021). Black women are the least likely to match with others and black people are 10 times more likely to initiate interactions with white people than for the opposite to occur (Lewis et al. 2012;Lewis et al. 2013;Lin and Lundquist 2013;Mendelsohn et al. 2014). Although there is not exact data on the frequency whereby young adults cross class lines on Tinder, in an innovative study that rebuilt Tinder with stock photos to better understand people's swiping behaviors, Peterson (2014) found that swipe-rates dropped dramatically whenever a profile was read as working class by her middle-class sample. ...
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The popularity of Mobile Dating Applications has increased in recent years, with Tinder transforming the dating landscape for college students. Drawing upon 249 peer-facilitated interviews with college-age men and women, we explore how this population uses Tinder. Informed by social-psychological theory and research on impression management and stereotyping, we show how Tinder’s marketing strategy and game-like platform appeal to college students’ desires to reduce uncertainty and risk in forming romantic and intimate connections. However, by upending existing interaction norms, the Tinder environment creates new forms of ambiguity, which, in turn, incentivizes conformity to traditional heterogender norms and encourages racist and classist swiping behavior. Our study advances the literature on inequality and intimate marketplaces by generating insight about how contemporary dating and sexual scripts are constructed, accomplished, and negotiated when new technologies disrupt established patterns of interaction.
This paper explores how queer Asian American women negotiate their racial and political identities through racial dating preferences. I investigate a pattern of desire that has been consistently found in previous studies: Why are queer Asian American women more likely to prefer Asian women over white women? The analysis draws from 192 US-based online surveys and 22 interviews with queer Asian women ages 18–30. The participants were asked about their various preferences for female and (if applicable) male partners. I contribute to the racial dating preferences literature empirically by (1) extending the scope of analysis to queer Asian American women and (2) analyzing bisexuals’ preferences for both male and female partners. I contribute theoretically by (1) testing sexual fields theory against the gender white advantage hypothesis and (2) finding evidence to suggest that homonormativity, as a logic of desirability, is less operative in queer Asian American women’s sexual field. Rather, their sexual fields are defined by an alternative logic of desirability, “sticky rice” politics, that prioritizes dating Asian partners and avoiding white partners to resist and distance oneself from white supremacy. This was clear in Asian American respondents’ overwhelming preference for Asian American partners, even Asian American men, over white partners.
Black women’s romantic and intimate relationships are explored in both heterosexual and queer unions. We discuss the strengths of Black women’s romantic unions and examine conditions that create stress and distress for Black women in marriage, cohabitation, and sexual and dating relationships. We discuss cultural, structural, and historical dynamics that drive Black women’s relationship stereotypes and challenges. We also address conditions that create unusual relational risks for Black women, including sexually transmitted infections and intimate partner violence.
Promoting Black Women's Mental Health celebrates the strengths and complexities of Black women in American life. Many misunderstand and mis-characterize Black women and underappreciate their important contributions to families, communities, and the nation. In this book, a team of Black women mental health practitioners and scholars discuss a range of conditions that impact Black women's self-concepts and mental health. Drawing on a study of Black women across the United States, authors explore the social determinants of Black women's mental health and wellness and Black women's girlhood experiences. The book also explores Black women's stereotypes, their traumas, how they shift in relationships, and images that affect their racial and gender identity development. The book draws on scholarly and popular sources to present Black women's strength and challenges. Authors include commentary, case examples, reflection questions, and resources to improve practitioners' capacities to help Black women clients to recover, heal, and thrive.
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As research on race and racism in the USA has suggested that it now takes a more subtle and neoliberal form, one of the areas in which race and racism are most explicit is in dating and sex. When finding dating and sexual partners, people tend to be explicit about their rejection of potential mates along racial lines while claiming that these preferences have no connection with racism. Callander et al.’s (2015) study was the first to provide the evidence that these expressions of sexual racism, or race-based rejections of partners in sexual contexts, were in fact related to cultural racism perpetuated in society at large. Despite all of this, the study has never been replicated. We aimed to partially replicate the study in the USA, using a sample of 616 gay, bisexual, and heterosexual men. Using the Quick Discrimination Index and online sexual racism surveys referenced in the original paper, we find a correlation of − 0.129, between the two measures. This suggests that respondents who demonstrate more openness and less racist beliefs in general are also less likely to be accepting of forms of online sexual racism, a finding that is consistent with prior research. Still, the correlation between these measures is not nearly as strong as that observed in Australia in the original paper (− 0.56), raising questions that require further exploration.
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Interracial marriages between blacks and majority group members often face higher social sanctions than other types of interracial marriages. Therefore, majority group members in interracial marriages with a black partner may learn to conceptualize racial issues differently than those without black partners. This paper conducts a preliminary investigation into whether the racial perspectives of white spouses in interracial marriages with blacks are different from the perspectives of whites in interracial marriages with non-blacks. White partners of twenty-one interracial marriages are interviewed. While whites married to non-blacks alter their racial perspectives, they do not experience racism as do whites married to blacks. These experiences of racism may change white perspectives on specific racial issues such as affirmative action and racial profiling. This research suggests the experiences of whites in interracial marriages vary depending on the race of their marital partners.
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Asians have settled in every country in the Western Hemisphere; some are recent arrivals, other descendents of immigrants who arrived centuries ago. Bringing together essays by thirteen scholars from the humanities and social sciences, Displacements and Diasporas explores this genuinely transnational Asian American experience-one that crosses the Pacific and traverses the Americas from Canada to Brazil, from New York to the Caribbean. With an emphasis on anthropological and historical contexts, the essays show how the experiences of Asians across the Americas have been shaped by the social dynamics and politics of settlement locations as much as by transnational connections and the economic forces of globalization. Contributors bring new insights to the unique situations of Asian communities previously overlooked by scholars, such as Vietnamese Canadians and the Lao living in Rhode Island. Other topics include Chinese laborers and merchants in Latin America and the Caribbean, Japanese immigrants and their descendants in Brazil, Afro-Amerasians in America, and the politics of second-generation Indian American youth culture. Together the essays provide a valuable comparative portrait of Asians across the Americas. Engaging issues of diaspora, transnational social practice and community building, gender, identity, institutionalized racism, and deterritoriality, this volume presents fresh perspectives on displacement, opening the topic up to a wider, more interdisciplinary terrain of inquiry and teaching.
Interracial dating on American campuses has had a relatively stormy past. Until the past three decades or so, it was outlawed in some states. Southern institutions, in particular, such as the infamous Bob Jones University have made this issue divisive even among their own constituencies. Age and generation seem to be cogent factors with younger people and succeeding generations more open than older and preceding ones. Researchers need to distinguish literature on interracial dating from interracial marriage and the two phenomena possess significantly different psychology. Given the surprising paucity of literature in this area, we call for a new line of research dedicated to this domain.
Three studies tested basic assumptions derived from a theoretical model based on the dissociation of automatic and controlled processes involved in prejudice. Study 1 supported the model's assumption that high- and low-prejudice persons are equally knowledgeable of the cultural stereotype. The model suggests that the stereotype is automatically activated in the presence of a member (or some symbolic equivalent) of the stereotyped group and that low-prejudice responses require controlled inhibition of the automatically activated stereotype. Study 2, which examined the effects of automatic stereotype activation on the evaluation of ambiguous stereotype-relevant behaviors performed by a race-unspecified person, suggested that when subjects' ability to consciously monitor stereotype activation is precluded, both high- and low-prejudice subjects produce stereotype-congruent evaluations of ambiguous behaviors. Study 3 examined high- and low-prejudice subjects' responses in a consciously directed thought-listing task. Consistent with the model, only low-prejudice subjects inhibited the automatically activated stereotype-congruent thoughts and replaced them with thoughts reflecting equality and negations of the stereotype. The relation between stereotypes and prejudice and implications for prejudice reduction are discussed.
This article explores how the efficiency of Internet search is changing the way Americans find romantic partners. We use a new data source, the How Couples Meet and Stay Together survey. Results show that for 60 years, family and grade school have been steadily declining in their influence over the dating market. In the past 15 years, the rise of the Internet has partly displaced not only family and school, but also neighborhood, friends, and the workplace as venues for meeting partners. The Internet increasingly allows Americans to meet and form relationships with perfect strangers, that is, people with whom they had no previous social tie. Individuals who face a thin market for potential partners, such as gays, lesbians, and middle-aged heterosexuals, are especially likely to meet partners online. One result of the increasing importance of the Internet in meeting partners is that adults with Internet access at home are substantially more likely to have partners, even after controlling for other factors. Partnership rate has increased during the Internet era (consistent with Internet efficiency of search) for same-sex couples, but the heterosexual partnership rate has been flat.