Racial preferences revealed by online dating directory of dating sites
The matching rates of each group to all the others spanned only a small range of 56 to 62 percent comparability.
In some cases, certain groups had higher compatibility scores outside of their races—for example, Hispanic/Latin men paired up one point better with black and Middle Eastern women than they did with women of their own ethnicity—but the margins weren’t statistically significant.
The students were shown a series of faces of black and white people and then were immediately asked to categorize words as either positive or negative as quickly as possible after looking at a face.
The researchers found that people were significantly faster at sorting unpleasant words after being shown a black face and, conversely, faster at sorting pleasant words after looking at a white face.
“As a result, the gap between conservatives and liberals in revealed same-race preferences, while still substantial, is not as pronounced as their stated attitudes would suggest.” The researchers suggest that what’s going on here isn’t overt racism.
Despite being the most likely to respond to messages themselves, black women tend to have the lowest rate of messages received—from any race, including black guys. “If anything, racial bias has intensified a bit.” The one thing that had changed was users’ willingness to proclaim they had no racial preference while still clearly acting on the same racial prejudices. This difference between people’s stated racial preferences in online dating and how they actually behave has been replicated in other research.
Fast-forward five years, and Rudder looked at the same question again using fresh data. A study of a large online dating site conducted by researchers at Stanford and Harvard in 2009 found that people on the right side of the political spectrum were far more likely than liberals to explicitly state that they were exclusively seeking partners of the same race, but both parties ended up displaying similar preferences.
“Both men and women of all political persuasions act as if they prefer same-race relationships even when they claim not to,” the researchers wrote.
There’s a good chance, however, the growing prevalence of online dating may actually be having the effect of breaking down racial barriers instead of erecting new ones.
People of the same race are inevitably going to have at least some shared experiences, simply because, in many ways, they are treated the same by the culture at large. So it would make sense that, outside of physical characteristics like skin color and eye shape, Asian people would have significantly more in common with Asian people, and black people would be more compatible with black people, and so on.
We’re in the midst of a cultural sea change to one of the most central institutions in the life of the nation.