Running Head: INTERRACIAL RELATIONSHIPS
Interracial Relationships Among Asian-American and Caucasian Adolescents:
The Regulation of Race and Romance in Two Different Cities
University of California, Irvine
March 16, 2007
This qualitative research examined the significant meaning of being in an Asian-White relationship, its collective societal responses made by family and college campuses, and the social construction interracial relationship has in the various realms of society and by the varying social groups to Asian-White relationships. It was aimed by surveying and interviewing participants in two cities, Irvine, CA and Santa Barbara, CA, to compare and contrast the different types of views and opinions on interracial couples between Asian-American and Caucasian adolescents. In addition, this paper also provided an in-depth investigation among the racial boundaries and barriers that persist between the two races while expressing the assumptions, expectations, and perceived realities that were discussed in media depictions and popular culture today. The desire for Whites to be in an interracial relationship with Asians was significantly higher in Santa Barbara than in Irvine. Furthermore, the desire for Asians to be in an interracial relationship with Whites was significantly higher in Irvine than in Santa Barbara. The study was only based on individuals who reside in Irvine and Santa Barbara and no other subjects outside of that area. This study assumed that many Asians from Irvine and Whites from Santa Barbara were not likely to date interracially due to the lack of diversity in that region. However, the results indicated that Asians from Irvine and Whites from Santa Barbara were more likely to date interracially because of there fewer opportunities to interact with someone of a different race, and thus stimulate there desire and interest to date interracially with other ethnic groups. Further research might reveal whether or not the diversity in one city plays a significant factor in forming interracial relationships among young adolescents in America today.
Interracial relationship, also known as miscegenation, occurs when a man or a woman interbreeds between someone with a different race. It is known that an estimated 46.3 million Americans ages 14-24 young adolescents have friends of a different race and are willing to date someone of another race. In a recent study conducted by the Teenage Research Unlimited in Northbrook, Illinois, researchers have noted that 57 percent of the students had dated someone outside of their own race, 30 percent had indicated that they would consider dating someone outside of their race, 43 percent of the students had not dated interracially, and 13 percent said they never would date someone different from their own race (Krause & Stirlen, 2005). Needless to say, our country culture has immensely accepted the idea on interracial dating among young children and adolescents throughout the 21st century in the United States. Though studies suggested that interracial relationships have significantly increased for all ethnic groups, researchers have indicated that Asian-Americans were among the highest interracial dating rates in the nation. With an increase of Asian-Americans living in the United States, this research will focus on how do White communities and Asian communities view and respond to Asian-White couples between the parents’ and college students’ social worlds on interracial couples.
To complete the task, questionnaires and interviews were held at two locations, ‘The Irvine Spectrum’ in Irvine and the ‘Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center’ in Santa Barbara. These were two different cities that have immense cultural and demographic differences – Irvine consisting of 50 percent Asians while Santa Barbara consisting of 5 percent Asians. This research also evaluated whether or not the city one resides in plays a significant factor in forming interracial relationship among Asian-American and Caucasian adolescents. In other words, looking into the social worlds of Asian-White couples allows us to further understand the similarity and differences among the two races while broadening a multicultural societal understanding on interracial relationships in America today.
Although a considerable amount of research have been studied to better understand the contemporary beliefs and practices surrounding the issues of Black-White couples, limited research have not been focused among the social and psychological implications on Asian-White couples (Littleford, Sayoc-Parial, & Wright, 2005). The significant rise in Asian-American population since the banning of anti-miscegenation laws in 1967 makes psychologists and sociologists interested in examining the interactions between Whites and Asians, and to whether Whites have shown differential responses toward Asians than they do toward Blacks (Fujino, 1997). In order to assess the research on interracial relationships, it was first important to outline what the social implications were among Asian-American and Caucasian couples. Researcher Grove (1991) stated in his work that Asian and White relationships were one of the most complex ethnic groups to study because of how the two groups must abide two sets of cultural rules that were completely different from one another. The purpose of his article was to explore the risk factor of being in an Asian and White interracial relationship, the attitudes and behaviors between those two cultures, and the identity development and formation that persist within these two interracial groups today. His interpretations assisted researchers to understand why many Asian and White couples would experience higher conflicts of self identity and individuality, and how majority of Asians struggle with assimilating to American society – that many would question where they “fit in” racially in a wider society.
Another researcher Fujino (1997) examined the rates and patterns of interracial dating as well as the relationship between interracial dating and interracial relationships among Asian-American adolescents. The author found that Asian-American women and Asian-American men outdate at similar rates. In other words, he had found significant evidence that Asian-American men were likely to be in an interracial relationship at the same rate as Asian-American women. The theory that Asian-American women were dating white men more often than Asian-American men dating white women was proven to be insignificant. Fujino (1997) also concluded in his research that Asian-American women marry spouses from other ethnic groups more often than do Asian men. He stated, “Within the Asian-American community, there is some speculation that parents exerts more pressure on sons than on daughters to in marry” (p. 15). In other words, Asian-American men were more responsible to carry on the family name and origin than Asian-American women do when they marry. In addition, the author also mentioned that Asian-Americans would marry White Americans more often than any other ethnic groups, and that Asian-Americans prefer dating whites over other non-Asian groups. Fujino (1997) stated, “The relationship between interracial dating and interracial marriage rates suggest that the rates of interracial unions are inversely related to the level of involvement” (p. 3). In other words, he believed that people were more likely to date members of the other races than to marry interracially.
Littleford, Sayoc-Parial, and Wright (2005) research focused on whether Whites experienced greater discomfort with ethnic minority partners than they do with White partners. The authors concluded that Whites were more likely to become uncomfortable when interacting with Black partners than with White partners, and that most Whites have shown higher comfort when communicating toward Asians than toward Blacks, while Whites were able to express more feelings about their relationships with Blacks or Asians than with Whites. They realized that people’s levels of racial attitudes usually vary on their level of self-awareness, their social and personal goals, and the prevailing social norms. This may suggest that greater interracial conflict do exist between White and Black relationships; however, White and Asian relationships were shown not to be with conflict. In other words, White usually would feel more comfortable being in a relationship with Asians than with Blacks. This research also focused on whether White college students in the Midwest would show similar responses to Asian partners as they would to Black partners. Littleford, Sayoc-Parial, and Wright (2005) concluded in their findings that White college students in the Midwest were attracted to Asian partners as they would to Black partners. They believed that White college students in the Midwest do not have many opportunities to interact with other Asians, thus stimulate their interracial anxiety to meet other ethnic groups. This research was particularly critical in understanding why Midwest White college students would favor interracial dating while other cultures don’t.
Many of the today’s new research on interracial relationship have focused on the racial boundaries and barriers that persist between Asian and White adolescents; however, limited studies have been performed on how do these couples form into an interracial relationship, and whether or not the geographical location one resides in plays a significant factor in forming interracial relationship among Asian-American and Caucasian adolescents. The research by Littleford, Sayoc-Parial, and Wright (2005) reinforced the idea whether or not people from Irvine and Santa Barbara view interracial relationship similar to that of the Midwest, and if those who do live in a diverse city were more likely to date interracially than those who are not as diverse.
The participants were randomly selected from Irvine, California and Santa Barbara, California at an outdoor mall in ‘The Irvine Spectrum Center’ and in ‘Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center’. Subjects had a choice to either complete a short survey/questionnaire or a structured interview. They were randomly approached in cafes, coffee shops, dining areas, outdoor benches, playgrounds, parking lots, and miniscule alleys. By completing the study, participants were entered in a contest to win various prizes if they completed the survey. All participants remained anonymous throughout the study; however, contact information, such as an e-mail address or a phone number, was necessary if the subjects would like to be contacted later to claim his or her prize. Focus was primary targeted among young Asian-American and Caucasian adolescents between ages 18-25 years old. Approximately 60 participants completed the study – 30 in Irvine, California and 30 in Santa Barbara, California. Fifteen of the 30 participants consisted of males and the other 15 consisted of females.
Two clipboards, few pens or pencils, 60 survey questionnaires, and several pieces of blank paper were used to collect data from this research. An estimated five Starbucks gift card worth four-dollars each were on the clipboards for those who desired to perform an interview. Throughout the research, a backpack was utilized to hold personal things, such as, laptop, books, and supplies.
The short survey consisted of these items:
Their behavior and attitudes when communicating with someone of a different race.
Whether or not family cultural background affects upon which race one can and cannot date/marry with.
Interaction among someone with the opposite sex.
Average length in past and present relationships.
Their opinions on Asian-White couples.
(See Appendix A).
The structured interview consisted of these items:
Their thoughts and opinions on interracial relationships as a whole.
Whether or not they would like to see more interracial couples.
The culture of Asian-American and Caucasian families.
How close their friendships are with someone in a different race.
Whether or not there are any barriers that hold them from having an interracial relationship.
(See Appendix B).
Approaching individuals to par-take in the study was a difficult task. Participants were informed that the study examined the effect of interracial interaction on health and attitudes. The subjects were all randomly chosen to participate in the study. All had the right to accept or refuse participation in the study. Many participants were also selected in an isolated environment away from people, shops, and distractions.
Participants spent five to ten minutes discussing and completing the survey. If desired, the interview took an additional 15-20 minutes. The order of the interview topic varied by each individual. A four-dollar gift card to Starbucks was given to each participant who decided to perform a structured interview. All subjects had the right to terminate the study if he or she felt uncomfortable completing the study.
Surveys on interracial interactions among Asian-Americans and Caucasians were first conducted at The Irvine Spectrum Center in Irvine, California. A total of 26 participants participated in the study - 15 of the 26 consisted of males and the other nine consisted of females. Of the 15 males surveyed, nine were Asian-Americans and six were Whites; on the other hand, of the nine females selected, five were Asian-Americans and 4 were Whites.
At the second location, the Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center, 34 participants at Santa Barbara, California completed surveys. Fourteen of the 34 subjects consisted of males and the other 20 subjects consisted of females. Of the 14 males surveyed, eight were Whites and six were Asian-Americans; on the other hand, of the 20 females selected, 16 were Whites and four were Asian-Americans. Of the subjects all chosen in both cities, all were young Asian-American and White adolescents between ages 18-25 years old, and were all selected in coffee shops, dining areas, and outdoor benches.
The results from both cities indicated that Asians from Irvine showed higher interracial attraction to Whites than Asians from Santa Barbara. Furthermore, the study also indicated that Whites from Irvine would show higher interracial excitement to Asians than Whites from Irvine. In other words, majority of the Asians from Irvine are more willing to date someone from a different ethnic group than Asians in Santa Barbara. Similarly, Whites from Santa Barbara are more willing to date someone from a different ethnic group than Whites from Irvine. The evidence of the survey showed no correlation or relationship with Whites dating interracially in Irvine and Asians dating interracially in Santa Barbara. Meaning, Whites from Irvine and Asians from Santa Barbara do show interracial affection among other ethnic groups.
Of the 60 participants surveyed, 72 percent said that they would like see more interracial relationships among young Asian-American and White adolescents; however, 58 percent surveyed said that they would not date someone outside of his or her own race. In addition, 78 percent surveyed indicated that they rarely find it difficult to build close and intimate relationship with someone in a different race, and 63 percent indicated that they sometimes feel more comfortable when communicating to someone with the same race. The majority of the people surveyed was, or have been in a relationship prior in taking the study.
Interviews were conducted in both Irvine, California and Santa Barbara, California in order to further evaluate how the residents felt, such as, their norms and values, about interracial relationships among young Asian-American and White adolescents. Three interviews were performed in Irvine, California and two interviews were performed in Santa Barbara, California. The responses from both cities differed significantly. A total of two interviews performed in both cities decided to terminate the study due to time or personal reasoning. Many participants, though, were extremely willing to cooperate and participate in the interviews. Each participants interviewed received a four dollar gift card to Starbucks after completing the study. Participants A, B, and C reside in Irvine, California. Their ages were 18-25 years of age, and were either Caucasian or Asian-American males or females. Participants D and E were from Santa Barbara, California and were also ages 18-25 years of age, and were either Caucasian or Asian-American males.
A Caucasian male interviewed from Irvine expressed the general belief that interracial dating might cause problems, discomfort, or elicit stares and comments. He mentioned that he was simply not interested in dating interracial because of different personal interest and associations, not on ideas of racial different or inferiority. He stated, “Nothing is wrong with interracial couples…to be honest, I never considered dating outside my race. The situation has never presented itself. I don’t find a lot of Asian women asking me out or anything.”
A Caucasian female interviewed from Irvine explained that interracial relationship with an Asian male was “unnatural, untraditional, and simply wouldn’t have anything in common together.” She stated that “Interracial relationships are not a problem for me, but any time there is something outside the norm, people will look, or even maybe be curious.” In general, she said that interracial dating was “not overly welcomed in Irvine.”
An Asian-American male from Irvine argued that he will date interracially with a Caucasian woman because he simply finds White women to be attractive. The interviewee mentioned that he had been in an interracial relationship with a White woman before, and that they both got a long great despite the two different cultural clashes that frequently occurs between them. He also said that he was no longer in an interracial relationship mainly because of their parents view on interracial dating, and not due to cultural differences. The interviewee stated that, “I don’t think that race really matters in an interracial relationship, as long as two people are compatible. Although cultural and religious views may come into it, if both people are dedicated to each other and want to make it work, it is entirely possible.”
An Asian-American male from Santa Barbara described interracial dating as not a “preference,” stating that he was not attracted to someone with a different ethnicity. He stated that, “There is a big difference between having a problem with interracial dating and just not doing it yourself. I don’t notice a couple, like, “Oh, he’s Asian, she’s White!” It doesn’t even register. I personally would not date a Caucasian woman. Does that mean I’m prejudiced? No! I wouldn’t date a man, but doesn’t mean I hate guys.”
A Caucasian male from Santa Barbara said that he does not mind dating interracially with an Asian-American woman. He mentioned that he usually felt better communicating with an Asian-American woman than a Caucasian woman. The interviewee believed that he found Asian-American woman to be highly attractive than Caucasian woman. He stated that, “To me, color has nothing to do with a person’s morals and character; those qualities come from the person’s own perspective on life. I look for someone with high morals and strong character, and that can come in any color.”
The responses given in both cities were highly different among each ethnic group and gender. The Caucasians from Irvine and the Asian-Americans from Santa Barbara felt objected to the idea of interracial dating. However, the Asian-Americans from Irvine and the Caucasians from Santa Barbara approve in the idea of interracial dating among Asian-American and Caucasian adolescents. The difference worth noting was that each participant interviewed mention something different on why they approve or disapprove among interracial dating between Asian-American and Caucasian adolescents. The next section will discuss about the findings and will also examine the strengths and limitations of this study.
The results from the people surveyed and interviewed indicated that Asian-Americans from Irvine and Caucasians from Santa Barbara were more likely to date interracially than Asian-Americans from Santa Barbara and Caucasians from Irvine. The findings collected from the data may suggest that Whites in Irvine and Asians in Santa Barbara were not highly attracted in dating interracially because of geographical reasoning and not due to psychological. Even though this cannot be proved, an explanation may be because Asians from Irvine and Whites from Santa Barbara do not have many opportunities to interact socially with other ethnic group, thus stimulate their interracial excitement to meet other interracial groups.
Littleford, Sayoc-Parial, and Wright (2005) once proved that White college students in the Midwest were attracted to Asian partners as they would to Black partners. In addition, they believed that White college students in the Midwest do not have many opportunities to interact with other Asians, thus stimulate their interracial anxiety to meet other ethnic groups. Statistics have shown that 40 percent of the residents from Irvine, California, were Asian-Americans while five percent were from Santa Barbara, California. With a large amount of Asians residing around Irvine, California, college students can agree that the public experience higher opportunities to socialize with other Asian peers than they would with White peers. This therefore began a significant increase among Asian-Americans from Irvine to date interracially because of there long exposure when interacting with other Asian-Americans during college. Similarly, with a large amount of Whites residing around Santa Barbara, college students can agree that they too experience more opportunities to meet with other White peers than Asian peers. This therefore created a significant increase among Caucasians from Santa Barbara to date interracially because of there long exposure when interacting with other Caucasians during college.
Limitations and Strengths
The study only surveyed and interviewed two cities. The sample of individuals and couples surveyed were not sufficient enough to conclude that the city one resides in plays a significant role in forming interracial relationships and marriage among Asian-American and White adolescents. Although this may be true in Irvine and Santa Barbara, it may not, however, be true in Sacramento and Fresno. Another limitation to be noted was that all participants surveyed were young Asian-American and Caucasian adolescents. It did not measure the mid to older Asian and White adults. In addition, the survey focused primarily on Asian-American and Caucasian, and did not take account on the different viewpoint among other interracial groups. This study did not interview young individuals who were eating, smoking, or drinking to retain the integrity of the research. In addition, the interviewees who performed the study may not have been completely accurate with there responses because individuals may have been more interested in the free four-dollar gift card to Starbucks than the actual study itself. A strength in the study involved the various raffle prizes given away after the completion of a survey. This encouraged subject to take the survey for a significant reason rather than for nothing. Also, another strength was that participants were first asked where they resided. This was significant because the study focused primarily on Irvine and Santa Barbara, and not on other cities around Southern California.
This study is important because it is often assumed that Asians do not date interracially, and that it is usually the Whites and Blacks who date interracially more often than Asians or Hispanics. Asian-American and Whites interracial dating are becoming more and more common everyday. This research set out to investigate whether or not the cities one reside in plays a significant role in forming interracial couples among Asian-American and Caucasian adolescents. It is also necessary to let researchers explore the ways Asian and Whites discuss their views on interracial couples in relation to their lifestyles and practices. Asians from Irvine are known to have interest in dating someone different from there own race while Asians from Santa Barbara are known to have interest in dating someone within there own race. This research may suggest that each individual usually date interracially for different reasons rather than for the same reasoning. Further research in this area needs to be conducted since such perception can change the way how we date socially and mentally among Asian-White interracial couples. Moreover, different cultures should be examined to determine the similarity and differences among the two races while broadening a multicultural societal understanding of interracial relationships in America today.
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18-22 b. 23-30 c. 30-40 d. 40-50 e.50+
Male b. Female
What is your ethnic background?
Caucasian b. Asian c. Hispanic d. Black e. Prefer not to say
Are you, or have you been in a relationship before?
Yes b. No c. Refuse to answer
Would you mind dating someone with a different race, as known as ‘interracial dating’?
Yes b. No
If yes, then why? If not, explain (1-2 sentences)?
Do you approve, and/or like to see more people being in a relationship with a different race?
Yes b. No c. Maybe d. I don’t have any opinion
Do you communicate, feel more comfortable, or get along better with someone with a different race?
Always b. Occasionally c. Sometimes d. Rarely e. Never
Does your family cultural background affects upon which race you can and cannot date/marry with?
Yes b. No c. Maybe d. I don’t know
When communicating someone with a different race, do your behavior and attitude changes?
Always b. Occasionally c. Sometimes d. Rarely e. Never
Going from your own personal experience in college, do you feel like you have more friends who are the same race as you?
Yes b. No c. Maybe d. I don’t know
Do you find it difficult to build close and intimate relationship with someone in a different race?
Always b. Occasionally c. Sometimes d. Rarely e. Never
When communicating someone in the opposite sex, do you feel more comfortable talking to someone with the same race?
Always b. Occasionally c. Sometimes d. Rarely e. Never
If you have no choice but to be in an interracial relationship with a partner, then which interracial race would you choose (select one)?
Caucasian b. Asian c. Hispanic d. Black e. Other
In a rating scale (1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest), how likely will you be in an interracial relationship?
1 b. 2 c. 3 d. 4 e. 5
What are your thoughts, feelings, and opinions on interracial relationships?
How do you feel when communicating someone from a different race? Do you feel the same socially when interacting with another interracial group?
What do you think are the cross-cultural barriers between Asian-American and Caucasian relationships?
Can you describe to me briefly how are your relationship are with your friends from a different race? Are you close to them more than people from your same ethnic background?
What do you think are the struggles that persist within an Asian-White interracial relationship? Would you like to see more of it in our society today?
How likely are you going to be in an interracial relationship? Do you see yourself being in an interracial relationship? Explain.
Are you attracted to Asian/White people?
And lastly, if there’s one thing that you can change about your relationship or friendship with someone from a different race, then what would it be? And why?