Are Interracial Daters Truly Undesirable or Insecure, Compared to Same-Race Daters? Examining the Personal Attributes of Interracial Daters
Written by Chelsea Ellithorpe
How does society perceive interracial daters?
Due to this prejudice, those in interracial relationships have been seen as less competent and well-adjusted (Lewandowski & Jackson, 2001) and have been said to have lower self-esteem (Shibazaki and Brennan, 1998), indicating that these daters may have turned to interracial dating due to viewing themselves as inferior in the same-race dating pool. This evidence may cause one to think that interracial daters possess undesirable attributes that cause them to turn to a partner of a different race or look down on one another due to the disapproval and prejudice that they face. However, Wu, Chen and Greenberger found that those in interracial relationships rated their partners higher on attractiveness and intelligence than those in same-race relationships did. They hypothesized that due to the social backlash that interracial daters face, partners in these relationships would need to have higher levels of more positive attributes in order to offset the negative effects of this disapproval (Wu, Chen & Greenberger, 2015).
How do interracial daters perceive their partners and themselves?
In the second study, couples were separated, and each partner rated themselves and their partner on these 27 positive attributes. The researchers also used grade point averages as an indicator of intelligence and found that there were no differences in grade point averages between the same-race and interracial couples. The study found that those participants who were in interracial relationships rated their partner more positively on cerebral and attractiveness attributes. In the last study, independent coders rated the attractiveness of each member of the dating couples, and the researchers found that those in interracial relationships were seen as being more physically attractive by the coders.
What does this mean for interracial daters?
These daters each seem to have higher desirability as partners, which may aid them in having the disapproval of society and their social networks. These couples may only decide to date if each partner meets a higher level of desirability than would be sought in a same-race relationship in order to help the couple stick together despite the negative aspects of interracial relationships.
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Lewandowski, D. A., & Jackson, L. A. (2001). Perceptions of interracial couples: Prejudice at the dyadic level. Journal of Black Psychology, 27, 288–303.
Lewis, R., Ford-Robertson, J., 2010. Understanding the occurrence of interracial marriage in the United States through differential assimilation. Journal of Black Studies, 41, 405–420.
McNamara, R. P., Tempenis, M., & Walton, B. (1999). Crossing the line: Interracial couples in the South. Westport, CT: Greenwood.
Rose, S. F., & Firmin, M. W. (2013). A qualitative study of interracial dating among college students. International Journal of Sociology of Education, 2, 67–92.
Shibazaki, K., & Brennan, K. A. (1998). When birds of different feathers flock together: A preliminary comparison of intra-ethnic and inter-ethnic dating relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 15, 248–256.
Wu, K., Chen, C., & Greenberger, E. (2015). The sweetness of forbidden fruit Interracial daters are more attractive than intraracial daters. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 32(5), 650-666.
Dr. H. Colleen Sinclair
Social Psychologist, Relationships Researcher,
Ms. Chelsea Ellithorpe
Lab Manager of the Social Relations Collaborative and Blog Editor