We tend to be more attracted to people who have a similar skin color. But a new study suggests that our romantic attraction towards people of other races can be influenced by our ideological beliefs.
The study found that young white men who endorse a “color-blind” ideology tend to be less attracted to black women compared to white men who don’t endorse such beliefs. But young white and black men who endorse multiculturalism tend to be more attracted to women of another race compared to those who don’t endorse multiculturalism.
Those who endorse a “color-blind” racial ideology believe the best way to fight racial discrimination is to ignore the concept of race altogether. The color-blind ideology holds that “race should not and does not matter.” Those who endorse multiculturalism believe society should embrace a multitude of ethnic and cultural groups. Multiculturalism makes an “effortful positive evaluation of group differences.”
The research was conducted by James E. Brooks of Tennessee State University and Helen A. Neville of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
The study was based on 62 black and 62 white male college students, who rated the attractiveness of women featured in eight fake online dating profiles. Three of the profiles featured black women, three featured white women, one featured an Asian woman, and one featured a Latina woman. For the study, however, the researchers only included the participants’ evaluation of the black and white women.
Overall, the participants reported greater attraction toward women of their same race. White men were more likely report higher levels of attraction toward the white women, and black men were more likely report higher levels of attraction toward the black women.
However, the ideology of the participants influenced their responses. The more a white participant embraced a “color-blind” ideology, the less likely he was express an interest in dating one of the black women.
“Thus, although white men endorsed statements which suggest that race does not matter in society, it appeared that race did matter in their personal lives as indicated by their romantic attraction,” the researchers said.
Among the black participants, there was no relationship between endorsing a “color-blind” ideology and attraction to white women. But black participants who endorsed a “color-blind” ideology tended to be less attracted to women of their own race.
Multiculturalism, on the other hand, was associated with greater interracial attraction. The more a participant endorsed multiculturalism, the more likely they were to be attracted to women of another race. This was true of both black and white participants.
“These results are important because they suggest that it is more than a mere absence of prejudice that can foster interracial attraction but that a conscious commitment to the recognition and valuing of difference across race may be what is influential in interracial attraction,” Brooks and Neville wrote.