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Online Daters More Open to Interracial Love, Study

Update Date: Nov 04, 2013 07:09 PM EST

Online daters are becoming more open to interracial love, according to a new study on OkCupid.com.

While race still plays a role as many people still only reach out to members of their own racial background, the study reveals that people are more likely than before to respond to cross-race overtures. 

After initial contact, these people are themselves more likely to cross racial lines and initiate interracial contact in the future, according to the study.

Researchers looked at only heterosexual interactions and people who self-identify as one and only one of the top five OkCupid racial categories: Black, White, Asian (East Asian), Hispanic/Latino and Indian (South Asian).

The study analyzed the first message sent and the first reply. The findings revealed that the tendency to initiate contact within one's own race was the strongest among Asians and Indians and weakest among whites. The biggest "reversals" are observed among groups that display the greatest tendency towards in-group bias. This was also true when a person was contacted by someone from a different racial background for the first time.Researchers call this "pre-emptive discrimination".

"Based on a lifetime of experiences in a racist and racially segregated society, people anticipate discrimination on the part of a potential recipient and are largely unwilling to reach out in the first place. But if a person of another race expresses interest in them first, their assumptions are falsified-and they are more willing to take a chance on people of that race in the future," lead researcher Kevin Lewis of UC San Diego said in a news release.

However the effect is short-lived. Researchers said that daters go back to habitual patterns in about a week.

"The new-found optimism is quickly overwhelmed by the status quo, by the normal state of affairs," Lewis said. "Racial bias in assortative mating is a robust and ubiquitous social phenomenon, and one that is difficult to surmount even with small steps in the right direction. We still have a long way to go."

The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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