Posted on March 23, 2011

Online Dating: The Races Differ

Jessica Yadegaran, Philadelphia Inquirer, March 23, 2011

With a plethora of interracial dating sites on the Web and a black president in office, one might think that we’re living in a post-racial era. But, apparently, that’s not the case.

According to a new University of California-Berkeley study of 1 million online daters, cyberspace is just as segregated as the real world. When it comes to dating online, whites prefer whites, research reveals. More than 80 percent of whites–even the 48 percent of males and 28 percent of females who said they were indifferent to race–sent messages to whites, and just 3 percent contacted blacks.

{snip} Young black men are the most likely to cross racial lines when looking for love online, and blacks, including women, were 10 times as likely to contact a white person as whites were to contact blacks.

Some people don’t date outside of their race simply because they don’t come into contact with people of other races in their communities, where churches, grocery stores, and housing are still quite segregated.


Mendelsohn says there are three possible reasons for the discrepancy between attitudes about interracial coupling and the actual behavior of online daters.

“It might be appearance management,” he says. “They think it makes them look better to say that they’re open to another race. Also, saying you’re open to another race is only stage one of the dating process. Stage two is actually taking the step. Another possibility that can’t be discounted is that people are just hypocritical.”


A major objective of the study was to gauge how changing attitudes about interracial marriage and an increase in dating opportunities have played out in relationships between blacks and whites. In the last 40 years, the approval rating of black-white intermarriage has gone from 3-1 opposed to 3-1 in favor, Mendelsohn says. But the study found that attitudes and behavior don’t match.

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