Factors predicting Whites' involvement in interracial relationships

Date of Completion

January 2004


Psychology, Social|Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies




In today's society, interracial relationships are still perceived and evaluated negatively. The current study focuses on four contextual factors (physical attractiveness, similarity, social network approval, and status) and four personality traits (resiliency, general self-esteem, interracial dating esteem, and racial identity) that may influence Whites' willingness to be involved in intra-racial relationships (with White partners) and interracial relationships with Blacks, Latinos, and Asian Americans. Participants were 223 White college students from a large University in the Northeast. Sixty five percent of the sample were women and 35% were men. The mean age of the sample was 19, and 97% reported being heterosexual. Using eight separate standard regression equations, four contextual and seven personality (which includes various subscales) factors were assessed for their predictive power in determining Whites' likelihood of being involved in relationships. While the regression analyses revealed multiple predictors for all six combinations of interracial relationships, not one of the 11 variables predicted likelihood of dating someone White. In general, although the specific predictors varied depending on the race of the interracial partner, women had more significant predictors than did men for all types of interracial relationships. Specific findings included that for all interracial relationships (regardless of gender) physical attractiveness and social network approval positively predicted willingness to date. Further, there appears to be a dynamic involving power and social status that may be contributing to the overall pattern of findings. This is especially true for the women, where their inherent lower social status (compared to White men) appears to be influencing the type of factors that predict likelihood of dating interracially. ^