Race and Social Problems

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 28–40 | Cite as

Who are People Willing to Date? Ethnic and Gender Patterns in Online Dating



The United States is a rapidly diversifying country with ethnic minorities comprising over a quarter of the US population. By the year 2050, over half of the United States will be ethnic minority, underscoring the importance of better understanding race relations and willingness to date intra- and inter-racially. Data from 2,123 online dating profiles were randomly collected from four racial groups (Asian, Black, Latino, and White). Results indicated that willingness to date intra-racially was generally high and that willingness to date inter-racially was lower and influenced by racial social status. Because men evidenced an overall high willingness to date inter-racially, women’s willingness to out-date provided a more accurate depiction of racial social status and exchange. Women of higher racial status groups were less willing than those from lower status groups to outdate. Results are explored and discussed in relation to different theories of interpersonal attraction and dating.


Ethnicity Race Dating Gender Online 



This manuscript was partially supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) grant 1R34MH73545-01A2 and the Asian American Center on Disparities Research (NIMH grant: 1P50MH073511-01A2).


  1. Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  2. Batson, C. D., Qian, Z., & Lichter, D. T. (2006). Interracial and intraracial patterns of mate selection among America’s diverse Black populations. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68, 658–672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bethea, P. D. (1995). African-American women and the male-female relationship dilemma: A counseling perspective. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 2, 87–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bonilla-Silva, E. (2004). From bi-racial to tri-racial: Towards a new system of racial stratification in the USA. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 27, 931–950.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bourgeault, R. (1989). Race, class, and gender: Colonial domination of Indian women. Socialist Studies, 5, 87–105.Google Scholar
  6. Buss, D. M., & Schmidt, D. P. (1993). Sexual strategies theory: An evolutionary prospective on human mating. Psychological Review, 100, 204–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Byrne, D., London, O., & Reeves, K. (1968). The effects of physical attractiveness, sex, and attitude similarity on interpersonal attraction. Journal of Personality, 36, 259–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chen, C. H. (1996). Feminization of Asian (American) men in the U.S. mass media: An analysis of the ballad of little Jo. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 20, 57–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chen, A. S. (1999). Lives at the center of the periphery, lives at the periphery of the center—Chinese American masculinities and bargaining with hegemony. Gender and Society, 13, 584–607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Childs, E. C. (2005). Looking behind the stereotypes of the ‘angry Black woman’: An exploration of Black women’s responses to interracial relationships. Gender & Society, 19, 544–561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chua, P., & Fujino, D. C. (1999). Negotiating new Asian-American masculinities: Attitudes and gender expectations. The Journal of Men’s Studies, 7, 391–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clark, K. B., & Clark, M. B. (1939). The development of consciousness of self and the emergence of racial identification in Negro preschool children. Journal of Social Psychology, 10, 591–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Coltrane, S., & Messineo, M. (2000). The perpetuation of subtle prejudice: Race and gender imagery in 1990s television advertising. Sex Roles, 42, 363–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Craig-Henderson, K. M. (2006). Black men in interracial relationships: What’s love got to do with it?. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  15. Davis, K. (1941). Intermarriage in caste societies. American Anthropologist, 43, 376–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Feliciano, C., Robnett, B., & Komaie, G. (2009). Gendered racial exclusion among White internet daters. Social Science Research, 38, 39–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fordham, S. (1993). “Those loud Black girls”: (Black) women, silence, and gender “passing” in the academy. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 24, 3–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fu, X., & Heaton, T. B. (2000). Status exchange in intermarriage among Hawaiians, Japanese, Filipinos and Caucasians in Hawaii: 1983–1994. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 31, 45–61.Google Scholar
  19. Fujino, D. C. (1997). The rates, patterns and reasons for forming heterosexual interracial dating relationships among Asian Americans. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 14, 809–828.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fujino, D. C. (2000). Structural and individual influences affecting racialized dating relationships. In C. J. Lau (Ed.), Relationship among Asian American women (pp. 181–209). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gaines, S. O., & Leaver, J. (2002). Interracial relationships. In R. Goodwin (Ed.), Inappropriate relationships: The unconventional, the disapproved, and the forbidden (pp. 65–78). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  22. Gosling, S. D., Vazire, S., Srivastava, S., & John, O. P. (2004). Should we trust web-based studies? A comparative analysis of six preconceptions about internet questionnaires. American Psychologist, 59, 93–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Graves, J. L., Jr. (2005). The race myth: Why we pretend race exists in America?. New York, NY: Dutton Press.Google Scholar
  24. Grieco, E. M., & Cassidy, R. C. (2000). Overview of race and Hispanic origin: Census 2000 brief. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  25. Hall, C. I. (2009). Asian American women: The nail that sticks out is hammered down. In N. Tewari & A. N. Alvarez (Eds.), Asian American psychology: Current perspectives (pp. 193–209). New York, NY: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.Google Scholar
  26. Harris, D. R., & Ono, H. (2005). How many interracial marriages would there be if all groups were of equal size in all places? A new look at national estimates of interracial marriage. Social Science Research, 34, 236–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hill, M. E. (2002). Skin color and the perception of attractiveness among African Americans: Does gender make a difference? Social Psychology Quarterly, 65, 77–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hitsch, G. J., Hortascsu, A., & Ariely, D. (2006). What makes you click? Mate preferences and matching outcomes in online. MIT Sloan Research No. 4603-06. Retrieved March 19, 2010, from
  29. Homans, G. C. (1958). Social behavior as exchange. American Journal of Sociology, 63, 597–606.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Horton, J. O., & Horton, L. E. (2004). Slavery and the making of America. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Hughes, C., Hollander, M. J., & Martinez, A. W. (2009). Hispanic acculturation in a predominately Black high school: Application of an adapted model. Hispanic Journal of Behavior Science, 31, 32–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hunter, M. L. (2002). If you’re light you’re alright. Gender & Society, 16, 175–193.Google Scholar
  33. Hwang, S. S., Saenz, R., & Aguirre, B. E. (1995). The SES selectivity of interracially married Asians. International Migration Review, 29, 469–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Iwamoto, D. K., & Liu, W. M. (2009). Asian American men and Asianized attribution: Intersections of masculinity, race, and sexuality. In N. Tewari & A. N. Alvarez (Eds.), Asian American psychology: Current perspectives (pp. 211–232). New York, NY: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.Google Scholar
  35. Jones, C. P. (2000). Levels of racism: A theoretical framework and a gardener’s tale. American Journal of Public Health, 90, 1212–1215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Jones, N. A. (2005). We the people of more than one race in the United States. Census 2000 Special Reports CENSR-22. Washington, DC: US Census Bureau.Google Scholar
  37. Joyner, K., & Kao, G. (2005). Interracial relationships and the transition to adulthood. American Sociological Review, 70, 563–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kahn, A., & McGaughey, T. A. (1977). Distance and liking: When moving close produces increased liking. Sociometry, 40, 138–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kalmijin, M. (1993). Trends in Black/White intermarriage. Social Forces, 72, 119–146.Google Scholar
  40. Kertzer, D. I. (1983). Generation as a sociological problem. Annual Review of Sociology, 9, 125–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kim, C. J. (2004). Imagining race and nation in multiculturalist America. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 27, 987–1005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kreider, R. M., & Simmons, T. (2003). Marital status: 2000. Retrieved March 19, 2010, from
  43. Levin, S., Taylor, P. L., & Caudle, E. (2007). Interethnic and interracial dating in college: A longitudinal study. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 24, 323–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Liu, J. H., Campbell, S. M., & Condie, H. (1995). Ethnocentrism in dating preferences for an American sample: The ingroup bias in social context. European Journal of Social Psychology, 25, 95–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lofquist, D., Lugaila, T., O’Connell, M., & Feliz, S. (2012). Households and families: 2010. Retrieved April 25, 2012, from
  46. Loving v. Virginia. (1967). 388 U.S. 1.Google Scholar
  47. Lydon, J. E., Jamieson, D. W., & Zanna, M. P. (1988). Interpersonal similarity and the social and intellectual dimensions of first impressions. Social Cognition, 6, 269–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Madden, M., & Lenhart, A. (2006). Online dating. Washington, DC: Pew Internet and American Life Project.Google Scholar
  49. McAdoo, H. P. (1988). Black families. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  50. Merton, R. K. (1941). Intermarriage and the social structure: Fact and theory. Psychiatry, 4, 361–374.Google Scholar
  51. Miller, S. C., Olson, M. A., & Fazio, R. H. (2004). Perceived reactions to interracial romantic relationships: When race is used as a cue to status. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 7, 354–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Miller, R., Perlman, D., & Brehm, S. (2006). Intimate relationships. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  53. Mok, T. A. (1999). Asian American dating: Important factors in partner choice. Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, 5, 103–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Morry, M. M. (2007). Relationship satisfaction as a predictor of perceived similarity among cross-sex friends: A test of the attraction-similarity model. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 24, 117–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Mullings, L. (1994). Images, ideology, and women of color. In M. B. Zinn & B. T. Dill (Eds.), Women of color in U.S. society (pp. 265–290). Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Murstein, B. I., Merighi, J. R., & Malloy, T. E. (1989). Physical attractiveness and exchange theory in interracial dating. Journal of Social Psychology, 129, 325–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Newcomb, T. M. (1963). Stabilities underlying changes in interpersonal attraction. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 66, 376–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Pettigrew, T. F., & Tropp, L. R. (2000). Does intergroup contact reduce prejudice? Recent meta-analytic findings. In S. Oskamp (Ed.), Reducing prejudice and discrimination (pp. 93–114). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  59. Pyke, K. D. (2010). What is internalized racial oppression and why don’t we study it? Acknowledging Racism’s hidden injuries. Sociological Perspectives, 53, 551–572.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Qian, Z. (1997). Breaking the racial barriers: Variations in interracial marriage between 1980 and 1990. Demography, 34, 263–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Qian, Z., & Lichter, D. T. (2007). Social boundaries and marital assimilation: Interpreting trends in racial and ethnic intermarriage. American Sociological Review, 72, 68–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Simmons, T., & O’Connell, M. (2003). Married-couple and unmarried-partner households: 2000. Retrieved March 19, 2010, from
  63. Smith, A. (2003). Not an Indian tradition: The sexual colonization of native peoples. Hypatia, 18, 70–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Tucker, M. B., & Mitchell-Kernan, C. (Eds.). (1995). The decline in marriage among African Americans. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  65. Wang, H., & Kao, G. (2007). Does higher socioeconomic status increase contact between minorities and Whites? An examination of interracial romantic relationships among adolescents. Social Science Quarterly, 88, 146–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wilson, D. S., & Jacobson, C. K. (1995). White attitudes toward Black and White interracial marriage. In C. K. Jacobsen (Ed.), American families: Issues in race and ethnicity. Garland library of sociology (pp. 353–367). New York: Garland.Google Scholar
  67. Yancey, G. (2002). Who interracially dates: An examination of the characteristics of those who have interracially dated. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 33, 179–190.Google Scholar
  68. Yancey, G. (2007). Homogamy over the net: Using internet advertisements to discover who interracially dates. Journal of Social Personal Relationships, 24, 913–930.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Yancey, G. (2009). Cross racial differences in the racial preferences of potential dating partners: A test of the alienation of African Americans and social dominance orientation. The Sociological Quarterly, 50, 121–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Yancey, G., & Yancey, S. (1998). Interracial dating: Evidence from the personal advertisements. Journal of Family Issues, 19, 334–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyClaremont McKenna CollegeClaremontUSA

Personalised recommendations