Why does race matter for women?

By Razib Khan | July 20, 2008 3:50 pm

One social science finding which I’ve wondered about over the past few years is the result that women care much more about the race of a potential mate than men do. The fact that individuals tend to want to mate assortatively with those who share their characteristics is no surprise. Rather, what does surprise are a series of papers that show a very strong asymmetry in strength of preference between males and females. To be crass about it, an attractive warm body will do for a man, but women strongly prefer a body with the packaging of their own race!
First, let’s keep this in perspective, here are the correlations from the GSS for married individuals for several variables of note (I’ve filtered for whites here):
Ethnicity – 0.40
Highest Degree – 0.55
Socioeconomic index – 0.32
I think it’s interesting to note that the variable which reveals meritocratic achievement has the highest correlation. Ethnicity is something you’re born into, and socioeconomic index is a metric which derives from the milieu in which you were raised.
This post is going to review some findings in a paper which attempts to both describe the differences in race preference for dating by race and across genders, and, why those differences might emerge the way that they do. The paper is Racial Preferences in Dating, Review of Economic Studies (click the link to download and read the whole thing yourself!). Here’s the abstract:

We examine racial preferences in dating. We employ a Speed Dating experiment that allows us to directly observe individual decisions and thus infer whose preferences lead to racial segregation in romantic relationships. Females exhibit stronger racial preferences than males. The richness of our data further allows us to identify many determinants of same-race preferences. Subjects’ backgrounds, including the racial composition of the ZIP code where a subject grew up and the prevailing racial attitudes in a subject’s state or country of origin, strongly influence same-race preferences. Older subjects and more physically attractive subjects exhibit weaker same-race preferences.

A few points need to be made clear: males do not exhibit statistically significant racial preferences by and large. That’s somewhat shocking to me. I’m not surprised that older subjects have weaker biases, I suspect frankly they’re more realistic and don’t want to narrow their options anymore than they have to. Finally, I’m totally confused as to why hotties would be less race conscious; you would figure if hybrid vigor is real that the marginal returns would be greatest for the fuglies (specifically, assuming that fugitude correlates with individual mutational load and hybridization would be better at masking that load). But the most relevant demographic point is that these are Columbia University graduate students. In other words, a cognitively & socially elite sample.


table1racistwomen.jpg
As you can see the demographics are unsurprising for an elite university. Do note that South Asians were discarded from the Asian category so that Asian within this study refers only to East Asians. The researchers collected a fair amount of data prior to sending them through the Speed Dating experiment. These and the GSS were used to generate independent variables that could be used to predict the extent to which race might matter. In the end, race didn’t matter that much, just to a statistically significant extent. The authors note that 47% of matches were interracial, while random expectations would have predicted 53%. Random mating in the general population would result in 44% of marriages being interracial, while only 4% are. It is obvious though that demographic segregation will shift away from a panmictic dynamic, and, I think marriage is frankly a higher bar than accepting the proposal for a date.
Here’s the chart that shows you who wanted who:
table2racistwomen.jpg
Just inspecting the table, it’s pretty obvious what’s going on here. Some general observations:
1) Black women at Columbia are really open to dating black men. Take a look at the sex ratios there.
2) Asian dudes are really screwed. Not only are non-Asian women not impressed, but Asian women aren’t reciprocally racially discriminatory to level the playing field.
3) Women care a lot more about race than men. Though there is some variation in the male acceptances by race, but as I said most of the differences were not statistically significant. To make this concrete, black women were three times as likely to say yes to a black man as they were to an Asian man (though white women were the most repulsed by Asian men clearly).
That’s pretty simple. Here’s the nitty-gritty on their model. This is their first linear equation:
Decisionij = αi1Blackj2Hispanicj3Asianjij,
i = subject and j = partner, so this is the decision of the subject in relation to the partner.
Here’s the table which lays it out:
table3racistwomen.jpg
I’ll let the paper talk here:

We first look at the decisions of female subjects. For all races except Asians, all the coefficients on the race indicator variables are negative, implying a same-race preference. For black and white subjects, these coefficients are jointly significant (p-value < 0·01); for Hispanics, the joint significance is at the 10% level, with most of the effect derived from a significant (p <0·05) preference against Asian males. For Asian subjects, no coefficient is individually significant, nor are they jointly so. Finally, we can reject the hypothesis of equal preference against partners of other races for white, black, and Hispanic subjects, owing largely to the greater preference against Asian males by all other races.
For male subjects, the coefficients on racial preferences are predominantly negative but are not jointly significant at 5% for any race. For white and black subjects, when females and males are pooled and gender-race interactions included we find that the male race coefficients are significantly closer to zero than the female race coefficients. In analogous regressions for Asian average, women exhibit stronger racial preferences than men. Note that, since our specification includes subject fixed effects, this difference cannot be due to differential selectivity.
One possible reason for this gender difference might be the different dating goals of men and women. In particular, one might be concerned that women are more interested in forming a relationship while men are more interested in casual sex and that race has greater relevance for the former endeavour. However, in Section 3.3, we demonstrate that older subjects (who, based on their self-reported dating goals, are more interested in forming a relationship) exhibit substantially weaker same-race preferences. Thus, the observed difference seems to reflect a genuine disparity in men’s and women’s willingness to be with a partner of a different race, rather than differing goals.

First, Asian guys are screwed, obviously. I mean, look at how strongly Latinas have an aversion to Asian guys! Secondly, I don’t actually buy their dismissal of different goals. I’ll get into that later.
You might ask here if the differences are simply due to objective differences in attractiveness. In other words, are Asian guys just ugly, explaining their rejections? The short answer is to some extent. The authors find that some of the rejection rate for Asians in general seem to be explainable as a function of the judgment that they’re just not as attractive. Here’s the above table controlled for attractiveness:
table4racistwomen.jpg
There is a difference. But the general outline remains the same. At this point the researchers decided to simplify the presentation; they pooled the other races aside from same race and clumped males and females together when trying to tease apart the determinants of racial preferences. They found in preliminary analysis that though females are much more strongly biased, males exhibit the same pattern of determinants.
Since you can read the whole working paper I’ll restate in plain language what they find re: determinants. If you want the exact betas just download the PDF.
Here are variables which predict same race preference:
High proportion wish ban on interracial marriage in a region
Areas where people would not want to be neighbors with another race
Areas where there are large populations of other races
Here are variables which predict less same race preference:
Older
Attractiveness, 1 standard deviation increase in attractiveness results in a 4 point decrease in same-race preference
Variables which had no effect:
Shared interests
Cultural variables (books read, etc.)
Income
There are some comments on the robustness of their findings (N for blacks isn’t very large, etc.), but generally little else in the conclusion. Here’s the only thing of note:

Schelling’s (1971) model of dynamic segregation shows that even an extremely mild preference for neighbours of one’s own race may lead to completely segregated neighbourhoods. In our dating market, however, we encounter a different relationship between micromotives and macrobehaviour: our subjects have a strong preference for partners of their own race, yet the overall level of the resulting segregation is quite small.

First, this is a sample of Columbia University graduate students! Caveat. But note that they didn’t really extend their findings much with speculation. My main issue with the paper is this: I still suspect it’s not taking into account different intent on the part of males and females. I don’t think the analogy to older students is appropriate. Their logic is simple, if one assumes that older students are looking for serious relationships and are less race conscious, if women were looking for serious relationships then they too would be less race conscious, not more. I think that this isn’t controlling for all life variables. I believe that as people age they become more realistic (or, if not, they stay single!). Someone who is young and wants a serious relationship might have an ideal type in mind who they are holding out for. Someone who is older and wants a serious relationship might realize that eliminating people on the basis of their racial type probably is constraining the field of play unnecessarily.
All that being said, what’s up with good looking individuals? I am pretty much at a loss to explain why they’re so much less race conscious. Your speculation is as good as mine. My own intuitive hunch would be that the less attractive would be less picky because they had fewer options, but that’s not how it works out. So I’m hesitant to make anything up to explain the behavior and attitudes of the good looking.
I will add one more thing, though I’m hesitant. As a man of color I feel less than empowered when criticized by heteronormatively privileged white males on this point on the comment boards as they can silence my voice with their command of the English language which has long been the tool of the master, but could it be the white male patriarchy? Perhaps women, long oppressed by males have internalized the racism which is implicit in the current dispensation. One might wager that women perceive that the choices they make are fraught with far greater long term import than those men make, and so they stick with what they see as the “safest” option in the white male heteronormative patriarchy? Those who might be able to protect them? For white women it would be the white men who control the levers of power, and for women of color it would be the men who have been oppressed by the phallocracy and have been their allies of necessity against oppression.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture
  • bgc

    A comment on methodology – this is very much an economics paper rather than a biology paper – yet they are doing biology (ie. psychology).
    By which I mean they have a single data set with virtually no controls, and they apply controls retrospectively by multiple regression methods. But this is all post hoc.
    A biologist would have collected several data sets sequentially, refining the hypothesis before each new set of observations, and controlling the sample more and more tightly each time.
    The biological method is better IMHO.
    This paper is fine as a hypotheses-generating first shot; but strikes me as trying to wring way too much out of a single set of observations by slicing it up in lots of different ways. I’d rather see three or more sequential sets of data with much simpler analyses.

  • http://www.xanga.com/cagey_b Ace of Sevens

    I think the attractive may have different dating goals as well. Since they can date whoever they want, there’s no pressure to try to get it right on any given try.
    I do think this sample isn’t going to be very representative of the population. It could stand a bigger study.
    I largely blame the mdeia. How many interracial romances in the movies have an Asian guy? The only one I can think of with any kissing is the Harold and Kumar series.

  • phisrow

    Those results, particularly the effects of gender and attractiveness, are not at all what I would have expected. The only thing that strikes me as a possibility with regard to the effect of attractiveness would be an effect from distributions of attractiveness within various groups. In my own (purely anecdotal) experience, I’ve gotten the impression that virtually all groups I’m familiar with have at least a few very attractive members; but that attractiveness on average and distribution of attractiveness levels differs fairly markedly.
    I imagine that people would tend to judge the desireability of a group on the basis of the desireability of the members of that group that they would plausibly associate with, which would roughly imply more attractive people judging a group by its more attractive members and less attractive people judging a group by its less attractive members. If it is generally the case that people share my experiences of attractiveness, this would lead to the outcome of very attractive people showing lower race preference.
    I have nothing resembling actual data for that suggestion(though, in principle, the necessary data wouldn’t be too terribly tricky to gather); but it was the only thing I could think of that might explain what is otherwise a seriously puzzling result.

  • Brian

    Did you just say ‘phallocracy’ ?

  • http://shinbounomatsuri.wordpress.com Spike Gomes

    Hah, now I want to see is an analysis of racial preferences in dating and/or marraige organized by IQ sigmas. That might be very interesting.

  • Bob

    As a man of color I feel less than empowered when criticized by heteronormatively privileged white males on this point on the comment boards as they can silence my voice with their command of the English language which has long been the tool of the master, but could it be the white male patriarchy? Perhaps women, long oppressed by males have internalized the racism which is implicit in the current dispensation. One might wager that women perceive that the choices they make are fraught with far greater long term import than those men make, and so they stick with what they see as the “safest” option in the white male heteronormative patriarchy? Those who might be able to protect them? For white women it would be the white men who control the levers of power, and for women of color it would be the men who have been oppressed by the phallocracy and have been their allies of necessity against oppression.

    Submit that to Social Text, I’d say!
    Cheers,
    –Bob

  • http://akinokure.blogspot.com agnostic

    Hybrid vigor just refers to beating expectation, right? Let’s assume it does. So if you’re an ugly white woman, your kid would be better looking if sired by an ugly black man than an ugly white man (let’s not get too carried away — people will still sort by looks).
    Still, the kid is still going to be fugly. Unless the above-expectation boost is huge, it may not be worth the costs. The mixed-race kid would have a lower IQ than a white X white kid, in this example. Or if we’re talking an ugly black woman choosing a white vs. black father, the mixed race kid would be more introverted and less of a playa than the black X black kid.
    Mothers are going to rear the children no matter what; the fathers may or may not be there. And the mothers will be part of their own culture — a white woman isn’t going to rear her baby, regardless of who the father is, in a black neighborhood. So, she’ll choose traits that will help the kid get ahead in the white neighborhood — and whites will generally have those traits more than blacks will, as the environments we create reflect the people who built them.
    Same with the black mother — she wants a kid with traits that will help it thrive in a black neighborhood, and blacks are more likely to have these than whites are.
    I don’t believe I’ve read that explanation in all of these funny econ papers, but it makes the most sense.
    When you get to the level of hotties, though, then they may be willing to sacrifice the ability of their kid to thrive using all traits that adapt people to their environments — if a hottie has a kid by another hottie, the kid will be able to get through survival and reproduction based on their stunning looks alone.
    So it depends on how much a person is “putting all their eggs in one basket” — if so, then open up the pool to all races, to find someone who also is putting all their eggs in the same one basket. If you’re nothing special — at anything — then you have to rely on all traits to get your kid by, and that means you’ll pick someone from a group that’s already adapted to that environment.

  • http://akinokure.blogspot.com agnostic

    One prediction is that higher-IQ people should be more into partners of Other groups with roughly the same mean IQ as their own. Like smart Italians would be more willing to marry Irish, or upper-caste Browns and Ashkenazi Jews.
    (You wouldn’t want to look at how willing smart vs. dumb whites are to marry blacks — if they want to find another high-IQ partner, they’re more likely to find it within their own group.)
    Or take wealth, which is also inherited from both parents. If you want your kid to be loaded, you’d better be open to the royalty or aristocracy of other nations, since your own nation can only supply so many rich spouses.
    Basically, cosmopolitanism is a socially acceptable way to brag about how exceptional you are in one or more respects.

  • http://akinokure.blogspot.com agnostic

    BTW, for all you Other-lovers out there, now you have a new trick up your sleeve for overcoming any Other-resistance they may have: casually bring up a study you read that shows ugly people are less willing to date outside their race.
    I mean, no one wants to think of themselves as ugly, right? That ought to at least allow you to get your foot in the door.
    suckers.

  • http://www.scienceblogs.com/gnxp razib

    I mean, no one wants to think of themselves as ugly, right?
    90% of people think of themselves as above average.

  • http://www.scienceblogs.com/gnxp razib

    and controlling the sample more and more tightly each time.
    you mean experiments? ;-) there are some issues with “controlling” human samples if you know what i mean….

  • http://aveganatheist.blogspot.com Vegan Atheist

    agnostic, I’d like to point out that IQ is a far more reliable indicator of education than intelligence. Here’s a good link that covers the issues:
    http://wilderdom.com/personality/L4-1IntelligenceNatureVsNurture.html
    The biggest reason why many black people have lower IQs is because there is an inherent cultural bias in African-American culture towards athletics and against intellectual achievement. Don’t believe a white chick, listen to the nerdy black guy:
    http://davidadewumi.com/2008/07/06/why-are-black-nerds-so-unpopular/
    Also, not all women are child-rearers; 2.7% of American stay at home parents are male. (That’s a small percentage, but it adds up to over 150,000 households!)
    Cultural values have as much to do with marriage as anything else. Education level and ethnicity determine these values most strongly, which is why one expects to see a high degree of correlation between partners in these areas. It has nothing to do with any racial superiority in any category.

  • bgc

    bgc- “and controlling the sample more and more tightly each time.”
    Razib – “you mean experiments? ;-) there are some issues with “controlling” human samples if you know what i mean….”
    Just to clarify – what you should do when you have some observations on dating preferences and they suggest that females are more influenced by race than men, is that then you should design *another independent set of observations* (e.g. another experiment) to test this post hoc hypothesis.
    And you do this by controlling for all the confounding variables that you *think* you have detected from analysis of the first set of obs – so you sample from a narrow age range (to control for age) and you sample from a narrow spectrum of attractiveness and so on.
    There is no scientific excuse for indulging in an orgy of post hoc multiple regressions when what is needed is more observations. It is a distraction, and it (I believe) is misleading (and has, in this instance, misled) because it generates a spurious sense of conclusiveness.
    The point is that with multiple regression analysis you are not *really* controlling for age by (for example) post hoc partialling-out ‘the effect of’ age.
    (Because this procedure is implicitly creating a ‘model’ of the effect of age, using the same data set in which you have measured the effect of age.)
    Alternatively, if you are wedded to your regression analysis, you can do another set (or several sets) of independent obs on which to test your regression model that purposrts to control for age – to see if it works on independent data, If it does control for age, then you can go ahead and use it.
    You actually need to control for age.
    The biology way of doing biology is to use relatively small numbers of homogenous subjects (eg inbred and identically reared rates of the same age). The ‘economics’ way of doing biology is apparently to do you study on (vast numbers of) rats, mice, dolphins and any other animal that wanders past – and then ‘control’ for the differences post hoc using multiple regression analysis.
    I suggest that the economics method is – ahem – inferior…
    The economics method evolved to test unrepeatable phenomena, such as longitudinal trends in the national economy – but in biology/ psychology the phenomena are usually repeatable, hence potentially controllable.
    For example, watching some Ivy League students choose their dates is not an unique event like Hyper-inflation in the Weimar Republic – the dating experiment is repeatable, hence there is no justification for using this kind of ‘macroeconomic’ design.
    What results from applying the economics approach to psychology is a rather puny set of original obs – the sort of psychology data collected by a student over a few months in an Honours or a Masters project and either not published or just as a 4 page brief report – but bulked-up into a bogus 16 page monstrosity with the ‘anabolic steroids ‘ of complex but inappropriate stats…
    I think I’ve said enough…

  • http://www.scienceblogs.com/gnxp razib

    there was a previous set of research not using ivy league students which showed similar results from what i recall (they’re referenced in the paper). did i misremember the nature of those papers?

  • tcp

    The difference is easily explained by evolutionary differences between the sexes.
    Men are interested in planting as many seeds as they can, wherever they can. Different races are exotic.
    Women are interested in a mate, a long-term companion, a provider. Their racial preference in choosing a mate is influenced by the other ‘providers’ that they have encountered growing up. All elder family members were the same race. There’s a high probability that the community they were raised in and its authority figures (religious, political & educational) were the same race as well. For women, choosing a mate of a different race isn’t exotic, it’s risky.

  • eniola

    Another reason race matters more for women is that women tend to be the flexible one in the relationship, so it’s a bigger life change for them than for men. When a white man marries a black/asian woman, he generally drags her into his world. Examples are halle berry’s new found interest in golf. However, when a white woman marries a black/hispanic man, she generally needs to conform to the minority culture at least somewhat. so you’ll see lots of them trying to learn spanish or cook soul food(an extreme example is ice-t’s wife and her multiple surgeries to obtain a “black body”)
    Overall, it’s a larger commitment for the woman, while for the man, very little changes.

  • Dylab

    So do you think there would be a smaller difference if we normalized for long term interests? I don’t have a chance to look at the studies but I would think that would be something they would have looked at.

  • AG

    Dating is a skill of natural mating skill.. Domesticated animals will be weak in their mating skill compared to their wild conterpart.
    Civilized people will be weak in their mating skill and appeal, compared to recent hunter-gather tribes.

  • AG

    If sexual attraction is positively related to number of sexual partners, this study might just be part of Rushton theory.

  • Tony Jeremiah

    women care much more about the race of a potential mate than men do
    From the data in table 1, it seems more accurate to say that black female graduate students at Columbia University have a stronger own-race preference, while white female graduate students at Columbia University have the weakest own-race preference, relative to asian and hispanic male and female Columbia graduate students. But an important qualification concerns the seemingly large discrepancy in the observed own-race, speed dating pairings.
    If I’m reading table 1 correctly, the fractions refer to the percentage of speed dating pairs indicating they are interested in seeing the other person again. Examining only the own-race ‘yes’ data (i.e., data showing the person is interested in seeing a person of the same-race again) broken down by gender, you get the following:
    Female: White(.38), Black(.89), Hispanic(.50), Asian(.44)
    Male: White(.49), Black(.67), Hispanic(0.46), Asian(.47)
    Just going by this data, it appears that white female Columbia graduate students do not have as strong a preference for own-race as black female (and male) graduate Columbia graduate students. All of the other observations fall in between.
    Things get somewhat more complicated when you look at the percentage of observed, own-race, speed dating pairings. (I’ve converted into percentages [e.g. White Female/White Male Pairing: 1238/1765]):
    Female: White(70%), Black(4%), Hispanic(8%), Asian(7%)
    Male: White(60%), Black(6%), Hispanic(11%), Asian(24%)
    This shows quite a significantly greater percentage of white male/white female speed-dating pairs were observed. This means there was far greater own-race sampling among white participants (which could mean greater initial own-race attraction or some bias related to how speed dating is setup, or, the disproportionately greater number of white graduate students).
    Also telling, is that this particular data has a trend opposite to the paper’s hypothesis. Going by the percentage of observed speed dating pairs, It looks like females (with the exception of white females) have a weaker own-race preference than males. When you look at the pattern concerned with actually wanting to see the other person again (previous data set), the weaker own-race preference emerges for white females, is maintained for asian females (although slight), and disappears for blacks and hispanics (although, it looks this is due more to males than females).
    So my sense is that the study is missing a very important element as it concerns primary and secondary attraction.

  • Marcus

    It makes sense for a woman to want to mate with men from her own race since the more DNA that a man shares with his child the more likely he is to stay around and help raise it.

  • http://akinokure.blogspot.com agnostic

    Careful, that’s almost a faulty kin-selection argument. I mean, if she’s his sister, OK, he’ll be more closely related to a kid that he has by her. Once you get far beyond sister, though, she’s not going to give him a much more closely related kid than someone of another race would. Not enough to create such a stark pattern as we observe.
    But what I was hinting at would do it — a Greenbeard effect.

  • http://find-green.info/ Josh

    The statistic that stands out most to me is that hotties care less than the average Janes. This was interesting to hear but a little common sense really explains the matter.
    If you are a beautiful person, you will probably rear a beautiful person regardless of race.
    If you are average, best pick someone of the same race so being bi-racial will be less of a stumbling block for your kids.
    Make no mistake, this choice women make have more to do with maternal instincts than racial preferences for themselves.
    Shortsighted perhaps, but it makes sense to me. Beauty is beautiful regardless if you are white, black, green or blue.

  • Jimmy Crack Corn

    Wow now that was a fascinating article indeed.
    JT
    http://www.FireMe.To/udi

  • anonymous coward

    Commenter background: I am an Asian male (married & have family, so I’m not part of the sample population). By ethnic composition, I am 1/16th of Turk/Persian/Mongol stock–a negligible trivia *my mother* likes to note as if it brings me a higher societal value than those of the more pure Asian brethren but wherefore practical purposes I’ve always considered myself (East) Asian.
    I found the comment about screwed Asian males very funny not in a droll-haha-way, but in a how-true-and-sad-observation-of-reality-way.
    On the part of Asian (both male & female population) there is a general sense of inferiority complex to the point where even in this 21st century Asians still subconsciously see those with whiter skin color as superior (even within the same Asian groups). Historically this can be explained from the observation of those who have lighter skin color as aristocratic and those with darker skin color as laborers toiling under the heat of the sun; this historical subconsciousness (un)naturally extended itself as a by-product of the European colonization era then with everything else that has taken place in the modern era. (Check out how popular skin-whitening cosmetic products are in Asia.)
    Sure, there are individuals who aren’t predisposed in this type of mentality (me as an example); but we are the exceptions rather than the norm. Another sad realization.
    This won’t ever change unless we (everyone in general, Asians in specific) can release ourselves from the self-imposed, cultural, inferiority complex wherever we inherited it from. Not by claiming superiority over other cultures (false superiority), but by natural recognition that we are all human beings.
    Iow: nothing wrong w/ recognizing that we belong to a certain heritage or subculture for preservation of historical, cultural and artistic values beyond which is backwards, non-progressive mentality. Philosophy, social studies, humanities and sensibilities are what will be the common equalizer of us all.
    I hope humanity will progress mentally and spiritually soon. Sadly, I don’t think it will be in our children’s lifetime since we shouldn’t blind ourselves to the reality of the world.
    PS: Folks, please don’t ever do the {whatever} pride tag anywhere we go; it’s a sign of ignorance and implied bigotry toward others.

  • guru2482

    Okay so this is for all the asian (south asian included) guys who read this and get all mopey –
    First, I can relate, this was me a few years back. Thought the world was against me for some reason cuz I was too nice and didn’t know how to interact with women. Why me? I thought…or better, why not me?
    Don’t think that being Asian or being nice and respectful (just the way our mothers taught us, right?) is necessarily a disadvantage. I have an Indian guy friend who’s cocky as all hell and *all* the girls are into him within 10 minutes of meeting him. Not necessarily good looking, clean cut, slim, dresses okay. I have another asian guy friend who’s ripped as all hell, models part time, and hooks up with girls who are only 9’s and 10’s (his words not mine, I’m not the ass). So its *nothing* inherent to the race.
    So if this is something important to you (dating, learning how to interact with women) then don’t mope and actually *do* something about it. Go to the gym. Dress better. Learn how to interact with people. Learn to be funny.
    And *most* of all, STOP DOUBTING YOURSELF in social situations. Stop second guessing yourself. Other people can be just as wrong as you in some situations. Only difference is, they’re more sure of themselves when they say what they say, and that almost always appears better. No one is right or behaves correctly all the time.
    And don’t give me the “well girls should like me for me”. Theoretically thats true. But if we liked people for who they truly were, there would be no dieting, no one would work out, and there wouldn’t be multibillion dollar industries for womens cosmetics and fashion. EVERYONE dresses themselves up a bit. You just need to learn how to do it yourself.

  • ST

    “…as they can silence my voice with their command of the English language…”
    1. You have excellent command of the English language. That is an observation of fact, not a compliment.
    2. You claim you can be silenced by whites with their superior command of the language.
    3. Since your own command is clearly of a high level… certainly higher than the average white male’s… you are either unaware of how much command over the language you have (doubtful… you correctly used the term “heteronormatively privileged” for crying out loud) or you are deliberately casting yourself as the underdog (which you are, linguistically anyway, clearly not).
    4. You are not stupid so you are probably aware of your higher level of command of the language.
    My confusion: You are not, nor do you actually think you are, possessed of inferior english language skills so why do you play the “less than empowered” card? Look at the facts (i.e. that your language skills are good) and then quit letting some imaginary white child of priviledge stomp on your ego. In plainer terms, quit acting like a pussy. You have nothing to feel “less than” anything about. Come on!
    I’m a man of color myself (it is light pink but that is beside the point).

  • Nick

    While we’re considering some evolutionary explanations for the findings, I think it’s helpful to keep in mind that much of this is also a cultural process.
    Asian males are rated as less attractive because Western media rarely portrays Asian men in sexually objectified ways it does with black, latino, and white men. Most people can’t name two movies in which an Asian guy kisses someone (let alone has simulated sex with someone). That perpetuates stereotypies of Asian men and also becomes something that many Asian men internalize.
    The disjoint with Asian men/women in the general trend of the study is related to this cultural artifact, but it also shows that cultural factors can reverse the effect. Asian women prefer another race over their own race.
    I think it’s fun and all to consider evolutionary explanations, but it’s entirely possible that a variety of cultural processes have different effects on men and women as well.
    I think what is most interesting in Table 3 is in adding the rows for a “Promiscuity” index. Or adding the columns for a “Fuckability” index.

  • Lyn

    This is such crap. The “author” seems hell bent against asian men. I think much of the anti-asian male stuff is because of the media pure and simple. And asian women want non-asian (primarily white) men, not because they think asian men are “ugly”, but because the media idolizes white men as being “all american, handsome”, while black men are portrayed as “super masculine, hyper-sexual”. Asian women (for whatever reason) have chips on their shoulders about being asian, and marrying a white guy is the best way for them to be “less asian”.
    It’s a similar mentality for black men who primarily date non-black women. They have issues with being black, try to say they can’t find any good black women, and then go for white (and now increasingly asian) women. Again, it’s because of the media. White women are portrayed as the ultimate trophies. Asian women are “exotic” and known for catering to their men.
    This is why we so often see the same old patterns when it comes to inter-racial dating… asian women with non-asian men being the most prevalent, followed by black men with non-black women… In both instances these inter-racial dating groups are created by self-hate (in the case of asian women and black men “dating out”), and a curiousity about the “exotic” (in the case of non-asian men being with asian women and non-black women being with black men). Surely there are exceptions where people got together without having any hangups on race, but the sheer numbers of such couples suggests otherwise in most instances.

  • Doug

    I’m Asian and I’ve been in relationships with all races: WASP, Korean, Jamaican, Chinese, and other South Asian races. However, I never realized my brothers in Columbia U had such a hard time. Ugliness comes from within. If you think you are -then you are.
    Maybe they don’t know how to package themselves well enough to catch the cute chicks?
    My wife is mixed Spanish and Japanese-cute as a button but I never once doubted that I would be able to get a date with a woman from another race. If I saw a cute girl I’d ask her out -regardless of her race or even height (yeah I’m only 5’8 and I’m pretty average looking). But I believe in the law of averages. Ask enough of them out and one or two out of ten will agree. For some reason my average was higher- almost 1/3 of the time I was getting dates. Beautiful women deserved to be asked out on a date. It’s almost criminal not to. I’d ask her out just to talk to her.
    Sometimes women want to try something new or see a different culture and learn about different lifestyles. You have to play up your strengths and view yourself from a woman’s perspective.
    Most American women in general have no clue about Asian men or even Asian culture for that matter (aside from what they see in the movies and on TV). That can be a bonus. The more ignorant the better (sometimes). I like to screw with their minds first and sometimes mystery helps. I use all the stereotypes against them (sure, I keep dog meat in my fridge for special occasions and my kung fu skills allows me to control my erection for hours on end).Seriously, humor helps to break the ice.
    Worst case scenario: She’s not into you but at least you get to fine tune your pitch. Sounds crass but women have to right to say “NO” when they’re all tied up in ropes just about when you’re about to pore the wax. BUT don’t let one woman’s “no” distract you from those that are truly interested in meeting Asian men (they do exist) -you just have to be where they roam e.g. like in the East Asian studies hall. You have to be in the right place looking for the right target. But console yourselves in this fact: If nothing works you can always open a Chinese restaurant- at least you’ll have money LOL :P

  • http://akinokure.blogspot.com agnostic

    ST — can we scan your genome in order to find out what gene controls lacking a sense of humor?
    Nick — stereotypes don’t hold people back. Blacks were told they were inferior, and then proceeded to dominate all sports except hockey. Asians don’t knock people over with their looks because they’re not as attractive on average as other races.
    Lyn — what, no scare-quotes around “the media”? I mean, it’s the only bogus thing you mention.

  • http://akinokure.blogspot.com agnostic

    ST — can we scan your genome in order to find out what gene controls lacking a sense of humor?
    Nick — stereotypes don’t hold people back. Af-Ams were told they were inferior, and then proceeded to dominate all sports except hockey. Asians don’t knock people over with their looks because they’re not as attractive on average as other groups.
    Lyn — what, no scare-quotes around “the media”? I mean, it’s the only bogus thing you mention.

  • Canivious

    I think that the reduction of race bias amongst more attractive individuals as well as older, comes from the same orign. both groups have dated more than the rest of the population and have thereby achieved a greater level of dissensitivity toward the idea of dating. in other words, asking each of the 1st 100 women out on date, made me shiver much more than the last 100.

  • Bob Tanchero

    It’s very simple.
    Asian men are short, have low testosterone levels, and have more feminine attributes than white and black men. White and black women just do not like them. Period. I lived in China for 3 years. Nearly all the white ex-pat males there have Asian women. Nearly all the white females there have… white ex-pat males. That’s just reality.
    Black women also suffer the reverse of this. They are the least desired by all races of males. That’s because black females have higher testosterone levels and more manly attributes – the exact opposite dilemma of the Asian male.
    Now you know.

  • randa

    this study would make a lot more sense if it included south asians (indians). those are some ugly dorky wimpy mofos.

  • someguy

    Razib, are you saying while its normal that nonwhite women prefer their own race, in the case of white women the only reason they would prefer – ugh loser, nerdy “white males” is because of racism and oppression. “The System of White Supremacy!”

  • Tony Jeremiah

    Columbia University [examining only the own-race ‘yes’ data (i.e., data showing person is interested in seeing a person of the same-race again) broken down by gender]:
    Female: White(.38), Black(.89), Hispanic(.50), Asian(.44)
    Male: White(.49), Black(.67), Hispanic(0.46), Asian(.47)
    Odds ratios of own-race marriages across 6 countries:
    USA: White(10.07), Black(692.29), Hispanic(39.65), Asian(164.02)
    Canada: White(5.64), Black(217.02), Hispanic (473.43), Asian(287.15)

  • Divide & Conquer

    Sorry, doesn’t mirror what I see on a daily basis. Far more white girls sleep around with men of other races than asian women. It’s a relatively new phenomenon but it’s only going to accelerate as the demographics in this country continue to shift.

  • D

    “Do note that South Asians were discarded from the Asian category so that Asian within this study refers only to East Asians.”
    Convenient, that :)

  • Doug

    To expound on the short stature of most N.American Asians– they can be summed up as: most early ancestors were from Southern China or South East Asia where their diets, socio-economics and genetics did not lend to taller people. However, in modern day China if you happen to live in Beijing or Shanghai you’ll see kids today (aged 13yrs old) reaching heights of 6 feet or more. It depends where IN China or Asia you look at.
    Japan traditionally in the beginning of the 20th century had, on average, shorter people but as the economics changed, their nutritional intake improved and it shows in the average increase in stature.
    Southern Asians (e.g.Philippines) are also very short. Due to diets lacking in high calcium intake. They tend to be shorter than their northern counter parts such as northern China (e.g.Mongolia with the exception of N.Korea- those guys are few generations f***ed over due to the starvation). The grand master yokozuna (Sumo champion) Asashoryo is 152kgs (335lbs), 185cm (6ft+) and he’s Mongolian where their diet consists of daily staples like yak’s milk.
    But who cares, right? Asian men better care. In the end it’s all marketing and societal expectations anyways.
    In modern Japan the more “effeminate” male is the new heart-throb where the caucasian foreigner is more of a novelty to be tried like the truffle sauce at El Bulli’s. It’s the environment that promotes the image and society has different norms.
    Maybe it goes back to primal instincts where the woman needed security and familiarity (read stay with races they were familiar with and that they could readily adapt to) whereas the males had the need to conquer new territories, gather as large a harem as possible for procreation which leads men to embrace females of other races so readily.
    Because every guy knows that if a Martian looked hot enough-we’d probably tap her ass in a blink of an eye.

  • http://www.blackwhitemeet.com kelly

    My best friend Molly is an open-mineded white single girl who love sports. She told me she met a black rich man at a dating club named ((((((((+++++==== Black White Meet . com====+++++++=))))))))) recently. She said they are happy now since both of them think love is color blind. Black & White singles, will you find your match online? Do you belive online dating and love?

  • Tanya

    I think Asian males are disadvantaged in the dating field because of media bias and vastly different cultural norms, particularly as to what constitutes appropriately aggressive dating behavior in the Western world, and not because of any “feminine” qualities such as Bob suggests.

  • Flip

    Steve Sailer has written articles on the female preference for blacks due to higher masculinity and male preference for orientals due to higher femininity.

  • Christophe Thill

    This is pretty weak. I won’t even start discussing the scientific relevance of such categories as “hispanic”. The fact that the words “university students” don’t appear in the study title suggests some serious questions about the researcher’s rigor (or perhaps honesty).

  • Australis

    Yet, another attempt to place American stereotypes and ideas of attractiveness on the whole world.
    European men ADORE black women, especially German men, they will chase black women to the point of psychopathy. The Asian man stereotype is quite tragic. Sorry guys. I personally am attracted to Asian men (I’m attracted to hot men in any place, thank God I wasn’t raised in the US), so I get the field to myself a lot of the time. I will see a certain Asian guy is cute but lots of the people can’t see it, they just instantly dismiss the guy when they see he’s Asian and won’t look any further, it just gets stuck in their heads, Asian not cute, and don’t think beyond that. The Asian man has to be devastatingly cute to break that wall. So it’s all psychological and cultural in my opinion. Anyone who doesn’t think Daniel Dae Kim for example is hotness incarnated in flesh is insane in my opinion yet I’ve come across many of those. Though I admit he’s just really really really cute, and probably goes across many boundaries. Or Shidou Nakamura, goodness.. You possibly might not think he is but all the basics are there, symmetrical face, etc
    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1217394/
    I’ve noticed beauty is in the eye of the beholder but pretty is quite basic. Someone who is beautiful in one place is not necessarily beautiful in another place but will be considered pretty in both places. People will be able to say person A is prettier than person B but might not consider Person A beautiful.
    I say beauty is cultural, pretty is biology.

  • Kyle Manjaro

    Keeping us confused and illusioned? There seems to be a dire need to sort out and clarify the terms you use and, with absolutely no disrespect intended, the thinking that stems from the use of those terms and the categories they engender:
    Consider some of your key words and categories: “Race”, “White”, “Black”, “Hispanic”, “Asian.” In the U.S., Hispanic is the standard accepted term when referring to Spanish-speaking people living in the U.S. Though confusion arises over Spanish-speaking people in the U.S. who are from Spain – are they “White” or “Hispanic” or something the usual partitioning of ???? doesn’t allow for?
    The Cambridge Dictionary of American English helps out: ” ‘Hispanic’ is connected with a person who lives in the US but who originally came from or whose family came from Spanish-speaking Latin America”. Hmm. A Hispanic-American is an American citizen of Hispanic origin. Other, more specific, terms such as Latino and Chicano are also used where more closely defined occasion demands. Note however, if you’re an indigenous native of a people, with thousands of years history, of a Hispanic Latin-American country, who becomes an American citizen, you are not considered “Hispanic”. A constant theme is hidden in this mess.
    Stranger still (but not really) while ‘Hispanic’ is a term that historically denoted relation to the ancient Hispania (geographically coinciding with the Iberian peninsula; modern day Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Gibraltar) and/or to its pre-Roman peoples, the term is now confined to refer to the culture and people of Spain plus the Spanish-speaking countries of Hispanic America. Going official: The term Hispanic has been used in the USA by the Census to establish the number of people who are from North, Central and South America and either speak Spanish or originated from a country that speaks Spanish. So Brazillians are not Hispanic (Portuguese-speaking), but they are Latin Americans.
    Meanwhile, the Portuguese in Portugal are reasonably clear: They’re NOT Hispanic or Hispanic-anything. They’re Portuguese. Or if you want go deeper, Lusitanians. Or if you want to go regional (Portugal and Spain) Iberians. They are, according to many, European only in political EU terms, or European geographically, but not ‘European’ in German, Finnish, etc terms. And proud of it.
    So, straight into the fire: “White” and “Black” are, nominally, colors, though apparently used in the US as a code for a rather fluid set of attributes no one really seems courageous enough or willing enough to publicly acknowledge in person. Neither term defines, formally (scientifically) or informally (in such a way that there’s wide acceptance), that quasi-weasel term that used to be called (in America) ‘stock’ and is now, even more erroneously, called “race”.
    “Race” is not defined in your study, and lest we fall into the usual unconsciousness when seeing this word, “race” does not mean ‘skin color’ (e.g. in America (to set the context) people from India and Pakistan who are darker than many African-Americans are NOT considered or called “Black.” Ditto origins from several other parts of the globe, except, curiously, Africa, but then, only Africa “south (where’s the line?) of the Sahara” (the ‘new’ euphemism for something old and nasty)).
    Furthermore, with the new vision brought by the advent of DNA and many other powerful investigative techniques in the domain of microbiology, no professional scientist in the 21st century can objectively define, point to an example of, or will (publicly) assert that there is a biological or scientific definition of “race.” There isn’t one. “Race” is a FICTIONAL scientific concept. So why perpetuate the fiction in your findings as if it were science when it (the term ‘race’) is really a “what do we want it to mean?’ sociocultural and/or politco-economic way of drawing an artfully convenient line of inclusion/exclusion between “them” and “us”? Very strange.
    DNA has demonstrated that humans are one species even though the recent discovery of ‘copy number variation’ (CNV) in DNA has lowered the estimated genetic similarity between human populations from ~99% to a still whopping ~95%. It’s a lot more interesting (and maybe useful) to understand why we share ~40% of our DNA with bananas (true). There ARE feature differences in human populations – visibly, for example, such as in eye color, skin color/shade, hair color, etc – and many differences unseen – but none that either singly, or as a cluster, add up to, equate with, or can be said to define some “race” (whatever that word would mean). Modern day scientific folks (as in present day, and no doubt this too will evolve) speak instead of a more complex human reality: ‘population genetics.’
    Hence, for instance, the term “biracial” is, quite literally, scientifically meaningless. More accurate to say (if I’m correctly reading between the lines) that one parent’s skin color was what is called “white” and the other’s was whatever skin color is different from “white”. Or any two different skin colors that come from different places. Is that “biracial”? Only in the US and UK. Practically. And treated like a deep scientific and/or religious fact. Weird. Stone-age thinking with space-age artifacts (e.g. DNA). It’s just as if a brown-eyed person had married a blue-eyed person and had a “biracial” child. Similar technical difference.
    Basically, there hasn’t yet evolved into common and accepted use in the U.S. (or most of the rest of the world) new comprehensions and understandings of the enormous identity between all humans (with an equally interesting range of variations within that identity) that the discovery and exploration of DNA has revealed; nor is there yet a 21st century vocabulary of the street or the salon, never mind the office or in state, that’s shaken loose in its basic conceptions and emotions of either old scientific misconceptions, or the religious judgments and emotional, moral and philosophical overtones and explanations that usually accompanied them.
    As I’ve long observed, most African-Americans and a majority of Africans when looked at in the visible spectrum are actually ‘brown’ in SKIN color, not ‘black’, just as most Anglo-Americans when looked at in the visible spectrum are various shades of color ranging from almost albino through, strangely (from their own descriptions) a deep olive complexion – self-descriptions that slide to a screeching halt before crossing the ‘border’ into (depending on what direction the ‘sliding’ has been in) political ‘yellow’, ‘brown’, ‘red’, or ‘black’.
    None of this is at all surprising in the US considering her 400-year history/habit/ daily practice of Native-American genocide/reservation keeping, and African-American slavery/socioeconomic discrimination – as the latest (10 days) CNN poll shows, which reflects the wide difference in perceptions TODAY between African-Americans who still experience wide-spread though usually subtle or unconscious discrimination (~60%), versus Anglo-Americans who also think there’s still a problem (~34%).
    Tangentially and speculatively one can see a very good reason (one of many they’d likely claim) ‘governments’ (especially the US) might have for hiding true extra-terrestrials from public view: Whatever passes for ‘DNA’ in them will possibly be ‘very much like ours with some startling differences’ – that would be a shock (to the public) – or they’d be shockingly different – which might serve to obliterate and unify our divisive perceptions of human peoples – cultural ways aside. Now who would want that? Or the other?
    My basic question is that, while I reckon that the distinctions I’m pointing at, being more than the usual Cartesian handful of two (on/off, with/against, black/white, right/wrong, et al) that most Americans seem to view the world with, are likely too many, why do you, as a scientific writer, continue (in this writing) to cultivate, encourage, and water the SCIENTIFIC illusion of “race” (and other population differences) as if these differences were actually real? This only supports and perverts the shadow meanings of the same terms as they are carried over into socio-political and other cultural ways of viewing and managing ourselves (and others!)?
    Interesting article, by the way, and well-written. IMHO, ‘what matters for women’ is something partly real (perceived population genetic differences), and something they are (like most of us) trained to imagine (cultural definitions based on scientific fictions). I sometimes think the ideas promulgated about “race” are a lot like the ideas promulgated about “divorce” and ‘single, loose women’ used to be. The moment women, generally, gained the economic means and the social blessings to be divorced, there was a rush for the exits from marriage that hasn’t quit yet, resulting in, in some places, divorces outpacing marriages. As well as a whole new mind set.
    The moment folks, especially women, become viscerally aware of the fiction of “race” and gather a little more social blessing, there may well be another stampede of a different sort, which the present ‘lions’ of our present apex economic ‘tribes’ have absolutely no interest in seeing occur.

  • soundgarden

    You people are all idiots. One look at this “study” shows a sample size of 412 people! Only 25 of them were black. You are sitting here arguing about the conclusions from this “study” when in fact, the sample size was too small for its results to mean anything. The only possible extrapolation from this could be about “Columbia Grad Student Race Preferences.” There were virtually no controls for self-selection bias, or dishonesty bias. Who was asking these questions, what race were they? Maybe people don’t want to say that wouldn’t date a certain race if that race is handing out surveys perhaps? Stop arguing about your primers on race relations and realize that this “study” is complete bullshit. The exact kind of bullshit I would expect from a shoddy school like Columbia.

  • http://www.joyseuk.com jyman

    To all the posts about the prejudices against Asian males- it’s sad but unfortunately true. I don’t think it will ever change (no thanks to the countless asian male stereotyping by the media/public), and Asian males being the ‘ultimate underdogs’ in life is definitely an understatement. Lyn- I think Asian females are only ashamed of who they are because they are repulsed by Asian males just as much as whites and hispanics chicks are repulsed by them. In some extreme cases, they may be ashamed of being East Asian altogether because they’ve lived in the west so long, or grew up there whether it’s in the U.S. or not. It makes me laugh because no matter how much makeup these Asian chicks put on to make them appear ‘white’, it doesn’t change the fact that they will always be Asian. In short, it’s one of those ‘it is what it is’ and it’s a good thing that many Asian males are happy and are doing quite well for themselves.

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Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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