Racial Preferences in Dating

I recently read a very interesting article about racial preferences in dating. The study was conducted by Columbia University and the data was collected through multiple speed dating sessions that were organized by the experimenters. Here are the findings that I find interesting:
  1. We observe a strong asymmetry across genders in racial preferences: women of all races exhibit strong same-race preferences, while men of no race exhibit a statistically significant same-race preference. 
  2. Older subjects have a weaker same-race preference. 
  3. Our subjects do not find partners of the same race more attractive, so race-specific conceptions of attractiveness cannot account for these same-race preferences. 
  4. We also find that subjects’ backgrounds strongly influence their racial preferences. Subjects that come from intolerant places reveal stronger same-race preferences. 
  5. We also consider the effect of early exposure to other races. We find marginally significant evidence that those subjects that grew up in a ZIP code with a larger fraction of inhabitants of a particular race are less willing to date someone from this racial group. In other words, familiarity can decrease tolerance. This result is unaffected by controlling for the average income in the ZIP code. 
  6. We also find that more physically attractive people care less about the race of the partner. 
  7. We conclude that subject’s own race does not influence the rating of a partner’s attractiveness. 
  8. For male partners, our main finding is that Asians generally receive lower ratings than men of other races. In fact, when we run the regressions separately for each race, we find that even Asian women find white, black, and Hispanic men to be more attractive than Asian men. 
  9. We similarly find that female Asian partners are consistently rated as less attractive, though we also find that black females receive significantly lower ratings relative to whites. As above, we find that when these regressions are run separately for each race, even Asian men find white, black, and Hispanic women to be more attractive than Asian women. 
There are a couple of these findings that I find puzzling and for which I have no explanation. The first one is the fact that women care more about the race of the partner (1). And the second is that more physically attractive people care less (6).

On the other hand, there are a number of findings that completely make sense and are expected. This includes that older subjects have weaker same-race preferences, because you would expect the people who are more in a rush to be less picky (2). Another finding that falls under this category is the fact that people who come from more intolerant places have stronger preferences for the other partner to be of the same race (4). The last expected finding is the one that showed that Asian males are generally considered to be the least attractive (8).

Besides the unexplainable and the expected findings, there are also the findings that went counter to my expectations. The first one is the fact that familiarity can decrease tolerance. I would have expected that exposure to different races would make one more open (5). The second one is that all the different race of men found Asian women to be the least attractive (9). This was very surprising given the fact that Asian women are highly sexualized in the mainstream media.

Findings (3) and (7) are generally interesting, but I do not have any comments to make about them.

The article can be found here: http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/emir.kamenica/documents/racialPreferences.pdf