Study of internet dating suggests racial barriers can be overcome

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Posted on November 5, 2013

Usually, research findings on the state of U.S. race relations are pretty bleak. But a study of online dating by UC San Diego sociologist Kevin Lewis suggests that racial barriers to romance are not as insurmountable as we might suppose.

 

Published Nov. 4 in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “The Limits of Racial Prejudice” analyzes, over a two-and-a-half month period, the interaction patterns of 126,134 users in the United States of the popular dating site OkCupid.com.

The study results in a nutshell: Race still matters 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 people are more likely to reciprocate a cross-race overture than previous research would lead to us to expect. 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.

Lewis’s study of romantic social networks considered only heterosexual interactions, for apples-to-apples comparison with the majority of previous findings, and only those individuals, for the sake of simplicity, who self-identify with one and only one of the top five most populous of OkCupid’s racial categories: Black, White, Asian (East Asian), Hispanic/Latino and Indian (South Asian).

He analyzed only the first message sent and the first reply. All messages were stripped of content. Only data on the sender, receiver and timestamp of the message were available.

Read more at: Phys.org