Running head: interracial dating

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Interracial Dating Attitudes Among White and Black College Students

Ismail Balla

The Pennsylvania State University


This study aimed to investigate attitudes about interracial dating among college students at a Northeastern United States University. Specifically, I looked at the attitudes among White and Black students at the school. Students were primed to look at photos of interracial couples on a computer. These photos either had a positive or negative representation of mixed-race couples. After looking at the photos, participants filled out a questionnaire evaluating their attitudes on interracial couples using a five-point Likert scale. I found that priming had an effect on interracial dating attitudes, such that those with positive photos had positive views, and those with negative photos had negative views. I also found that Black participants were overall more comfortable with interracial dating than White participants.

Interracial Dating Attitudes Among White and Black College Students

Interracial dating has been a taboo topic to discuss in the United States until the mid to late 20th century. By 1966, 17 states had banned interracial marriage, especially marriage by a Black and White couple (Bump, 2014). However this changed in 1967, as the United States Supreme Court ruled on the case of Loving v. Virginia. This case overturned the anti-interracial marriage laws in the 17 states that still hung on to racist ideology. That court case was almost 50 years ago, however not everyone is on board with interracial dating, let alone marriage.

Bany, Robnett, and Feliciano (2014) conducted a study that looked at possible reasons as to why certain races in America exclude Blacks as potential mates. The study hypothesized that African Americans, especially Black women, are excluded from dating circles. Researchers handed out questionnaires asking questions about dating preferences, and willingness to date outside of their own race. The questionnaires asked participants to rank their willingness to date each race. The results showed that 52.5% of the participants ranked Blacks the lowest, or excluded them from their ranking all together. Participants signaled in their surveys that the biggest reasons behind this were because of cultural differences and social disapproval. This was not the only study conducted that shows not everyone is ready for interracial dating.

A study conducted by Yahya and Boag (2014) wanted to research whether there was a parental influence and/or social pressures when coming to cross-cultural and interfaith dating. While this study did not explicitly look into interracial dating, the results can show biased attitudes. For the study, researchers interviewed 55 students of different racial and spiritual backgrounds at a University in Australia. After the studies were conducted, researchers found that to participants, preserving tradition was a very important part of one’s network. Participants also signaled a willingness to preserve tradition when it comes to their children and their dating preferences. Some were willing to admit that they would want their children to be raised the same ways that they themselves were raised.

Older people in the country are having a tough time coming to terms that by today’s standards, interracial dating is nothing to be afraid of. A study conducted by Mendelsohn, Taylor, Fiore, and Cheshire (2014) studied users on an online dating service to gather information about their communication with other members online. The users on the service ranged from various ages, locations, and racial backgrounds. It was found that older people on the website are more likely to only date within their own race. Based on what we know about racial history in the United States, this does not come as a surprise. Older Americans are less likely to date interracially. While this may be true however, the youth in the country have completely different attitudes than their older counterparts.

In the Bany et al. (2014) study, while most of the participants excluded blacks from their dating preferences, the group lowest among black exclusion other than black participants taking the study were White women at 30.4%. While other races and even some White men exclude Blacks, it was found that White women in the study were most likely to date Black people. In the Yahya and Boag (2014) study, a second theme found in the study was that participants had a generational shift in attitudes when compared to their parents when it came to dating. Participants responded that parents, especially grandparents, held on to racist beliefs from the past, and that these beliefs are impacting the participant’s dating decisions. Although some participants recorded this as true in their families, the participants felt like these attitudes were unacceptable in today’s society. This proves that younger people, regardless of faith, sex, or race, are a lot more accepting of interracial dating than older generations. While younger people are more inclined to be okay with interracial dating, younger minority groups, especially Blacks, are probably more accepting than other races. The study by Mendelsohn et al. (2014) concluded that on the online website, Blacks were more likely to initiate conversation with a White user than a White user would initiate with a Black user. Black users were also found to be more likely to respond compared to other users.

Based on previous studies done on interracial dating, I conclude that younger people, or those born after the year 1985 are more open to interracial dating than those born before that year. This is because attitudes across the country have changed over the years regarding this issue, and younger people are more likely to see interracial dating as not a big deal. I also conclude that African Americans are more open to the idea of interracial dating than White Americans on average. This is due to minority groups being more accepting of other cultures in the United States when compared to White Americans. Due to interracial dating biases, Black students will have more positive attitudes towards interracial dating compared to White students, and those primed with a positive interracial dating photo will have more positive attitudes toward interracial dating than those primed with a negative representation. My independent variables will be race of the participant, and also being primed with a positive or negative photo of an interracial couple. My dependent variable will be attitudes towards interracial dating. I expect there to be an interaction between race and priming, such that White students primed with a positive photo will have a more positive attitude towards interracial dating when compared to White students primed with a negative photo. Black students will have a more positive outlook regardless of what photos they were primed with.

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