Races Cross More In Online Dating

People are more likely to cross races for dating, but only with others they meet online, a new study has found.

According to newswise.com,  race does still matter online. "People still self-segregate as much as they do in face-to-face interactions; most, that is, still reach out to members of their own racial background."

But here's the exciting new twist: people are more likely to reciprocate an online cross-race overture than previous research has suggested. "And – once they have replied to a suitor from a different race – people are then themselves more likely to cross racial lines and initiate interracial contact in the future," the Web site reports.

It's not every race that's willing to be open to other ethnic groups.  "The tendency to initiate contact within one’s own race, the study observes, is strongest among Asians and Indians and weakest among whites," newswise.com notes.

What I found really interesting in the report of this study was that “reversals” were observed among groups that "display the greatest tendency towards in-group bias, and also when a person is being contacted by someone from a different racial background for the first time."

One of the authors of the study, UC San Diego sociologist Kevin Lewis, calls it "pre-emptive discrimination."

“Based on a lifetime of experiences in a racist and racially segregated society, people anticipate discrimination on the part of a potential recipient and are largely unwilling to reach out in the first place. But if a person of another race expresses interest in them first, their assumptions are falsified—and they are more willing to take a chance on people of that race in the future,”newswise.com quotes him.

Sadly, however, it doesn't last long.  Maybe it's the taste of the exotic, but people tend to go back to their own race after about a week.  "The new-found optimism is quickly overwhelmed by the status quo, by the normal state of affairs," Lewis told newswise.com.

Online dating has really taken off.  Gone are the years when you were embarrassed to admit that you met someone online.  People today may not even meet for coffee for a first date, as in the past, to be safe.  Both match.com and eharmony.com claim to have the most marriages (they can't both be right), but at least you don't have to hide the fact anymore that you met through either one of them.

I met my husband at a singles' weekend too many years ago to count.  That's what we did back in the '80s. Ironically, it was a social event for Jews and he met the only (or one of the only) non-Jews at the two-day affair.  I guess you could say we were from two different races (it often felt that way!), but I wonder if that would hold true for people meeting in person today.  Seems like the study found that wouldn't.

But online dating is going strong.  Over 70% of same-sex relationships begin on the Web, as do 20% of heterosexual ones.

Lewis believes our ingrained patterns of choosing partners are often based on false premises. He tells newswise.com, "Racial boundaries are more fragile than we think.” Good news for the world, I think.


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