Posted on February 15, 2010

Do Women Fear Mixed-Race Children?

Razib Khan, Science Blogs, February 13, 2010

I have pointed before to dating research which shows a stronger race-bias from women than men, correcting for physical appearance. In other words, if a man found a woman attractive the extra bonus for being of the same race was relatively marginal compared to the inverse. Well, it seems that this strong element of race-consciousness in the fairer sex might manifest in an even more evolutionarily relevant context. Race Bias Tracks Conception Risk Across the Menstrual Cycle:


In the paper they’re specifically looking at white women and their reactions to white vs. black men. Here’s a figure which illustrates the dependence of race bias on menstrual cycle:

The authors {snip} posit among ancient hunter-gatherers intergroup conflict led to a heightened awareness of the Other due to possible danger. And it isn’t as if the necessity of this awareness disappeared with the rise of agriculture or even in modern societies. Humans seem to have a strong tendency toward “groupishness,” and physical characteristics coded as race were a natural candidate for this sort of reasoning once intercontinental travel made it more common that different physical types would interact regularly (and groupishness is probably not bad by the way, it is one way around the coordination problem, and so may allow for social complexity).


[“Race bias tracks conception risk across the menstrual cycle,” by C.D. Navarrete, et al. can be downloaded as a PDF file here.]