America’s first biracial child was born in 1620 before anti miscegenation laws were created to prevent African Americans from getting romantically involved with Whites. Negative attitudes towards interracial relationships were fueled by racial discrimination and the devotion to keep each race pure. In today’s evolving society interracial relationships are still discouraged, especially between Whites and Blacks (Childs, 2005) due to parental approval and racism.
Interracial unions are believed to be evidence of a cultural development resulting from America’s practices of racial boundaries in social interaction (King & Bratter, 2007). In today’s society it is influential to increase contact amongst different races and cultures as the workplace, communities, and schools become more diverse. The current study seeks to analyze interracial relationships impact on openness to other cultures. The researchers aim to assess whether interracial relationships increase or decrease people’s willingness to interact with other races.
The literature review will further discuss the attitudes about interracial dating, the desire to interracially date, and its impact on openness to other cultures. Formation of Interpersonal Relationships Proximity and physical attractiveness are the leading factors that contribute to how relationships are established (Meyers, 2013). Back (2008) wanted to test the correlation between interpersonal relationships, proximity and whether gender differences would occur. Researcher confirmed that proximity promotes liking and attachment.
The study acquired freshman students from the University of Leipzig and randomly assigned seats in a classroom. In addition, researchers instructed participants to conduct a brief introduction about themselves. Researchers then evaluated the quality and the significance of the relationship by distributing an online survey to measure the relationship acquired throughout the year. Participants reported greater friendships with the students next to or near them in the classroom after a year from being randomly assigned seats.
This suggests proximity is an indication of whether an individual will develop an interpersonal relationship with another individual. Physical attractiveness is a contributor to how and why individuals’ date. Hartified (1996) believed that physical attractiveness is a good indicator of how frequent individual’s date and who an individual chooses to pursue. Researchers grouped 752 college students together based on an aptitude test and personality test to create couples based on commonality of skill and personality.
Each couple interacted for two and half hours to become well acquainted with one another. Participants were then instructed to evaluate and rate their attractiveness and personalities. This study concluded that even with low personality rating and high physical attractiveness rating participants agreed to go out with them again. Also research indicated gender differences where men place higher standards on physical attractiveness than women. This study concluded that even with low personality rating and high physical attractiveness rating participants agreed to go out with them again.
This study suggests that physical attractiveness is a major contributor towards forming interpersonal relationships. Studies conducted by Yancy & Yancy (1998) and Kouri & Lasswell (1993) support Hartfield’s research expressing that physical attractiveness influences the notion to interracially date. Formation of Interracial Relationships In addition, Yancy and Yancy (1998) research explored whether race represents a valued quality by determining whether individuals will trade or offer racial capital for relational assets like physical attractiveness or financial stability.
Yancy and Yancy (1998) sought out to expand the literature on interracial relationships by studying individuals attempting to form premarital relationships. Researchers hypothesized that White individuals are likely to trade their immense racial status for relational assets offered from African Americans or other racial minority groups. In addition, researchers hypothesized Blacks or racial minorities, trade assets like physical attractiveness or wealth for a higher racial status. Researchers examined personal advertisements obtained from samples from magazines.
Personal advertisements were coded according to sex, race, age, whether the advertiser desired a physically attractive mate, whether the advertiser desired financial stability, offer financial stability, or seek physical attractiveness. Findings indicated that African Americans are likely to seek financial security despite their low racial status in society. Also, Whites who interracially date are significantly more likely to desire physical attraction but, are less likely to offer financial stability and more likely to offer physical attraction than White individuals who intraracially date.
Due to the similarities in Black and White individuals who chose to interracially date this concludes race has insufficient importance in determining dating patterns. This article was insightful on how individuals of different races might form a union even with society pressuring them contrarily. To assess the influences of interracial romantic relationships, Kouri & Lasswell (1993) used the Structural Theory and Racial Motivation Theory to guide their study. The Structural Theory suggests that an individual’s demographics and mutual attraction contribute to the commencement and development of interracial relationships.
In addition, the Racial Motivation Theory indicates that interracial unions occur because of racial differences (Kouri & Lasswell, 1993). Researchers hypothesized that interracial relationships occur due to racial and cultural differences from their partners. To assess motivational factors of interracial relationships researchers interviewed Black and White interracial couples. Participants were asked to express what contributed to getting romantically involved with their partner based on physical attractiveness, similar values, and compatibility.
Results revealed that their partners’ physical characteristics are what attracted each participant to be pursued romantically. Participants revealed that their partners’ racial attributes and skin color as being the leading component to the interracial mate selection process. King and Bratter (2007) explored whether a woman’s background encouraged interracial relationships. The goals of this study was to evaluate how a woman’s background affects her likelihood of choosing to date out of her race for a sexual partner, a husband, and whether their first sexual partner influenced their marriages.
Researchers used data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth that sampled 10, 847 women from age 15-44. This survey asked detailed questions like the race and education on the women’s first sexual partners, cohabiting partners, and husbands. In addition, participants were asked to identify demographics, socioeconomic status, and religious affiliation. Researchers concluded that race, ethnicity, parent’s education, and region of birth have an influence in the likelihood that a woman will engage in an interracial relationship.
In addition, results showed that a woman whose first partner was of a different race, were more likely to be in an interracial marriage. This study also displayed that compared to White, Hispanic, and American Indian woman, Black women are unlikely to be involved in an interracial relationship or marriage. This study suggests individuals who are in an interracial union first partners, were likely to be from a different race as well. Also, supporting the current study’s notion that interracial dating leads to cultural openness.
Attitudes towards Interracial Relationships and Race Preference Researchers studied the effect of race preference in mate selection as well as gender differences amongst participants. Fisman, Iyengar, Kamenica, and Simonson (2008) decided to observe graduate students racial preferences by conducting an experiment using a Speed Dating service. Researchers used the Speed Dating service by giving each participant four minutes to engage in conversation and conclude whether they were romantically interested in the subjects or not.
Participants rated the potential partners on attractiveness, sincerity, intelligence, fun, ambition, and shared interest by rating these attributes on a Likert scale from 1-10. This study concluded that even with a liberal age group, participants same race preferences still exists. Furthermore, there were significant differences in racial preference amongst males and females. Female participants displayed a stronger same race preference than male subjects. Researchers analyzed the explanation of racial preferences and determined a positive correlation to the participants’ backgrounds as well as geographic symmetry.
For instance, if an individual is from a southeastern state where racial discrimination and segregation were prevalent then it is likely that the individual has a same race preference, compared to someone brought up in a northern state where opportunities for minorities were greater as well as integration. Field, Kimanu, and Straus (2013) observed the attitudes towards interracial dating by evaluating the point of view of students from HBCUs and PWIs. Researchers were interested in subject’s parental approval, age, gender, and race perspectives variation from each other.
Researchers used the cross-group relationship scale (CGRS) to assess the attitudes and the acceptability of specific types of interracial dating amongst the participants’ as well as their parents’. The socioeconomic scale (SES) was used to measure education, their parent’s education, and family income. This study concluded that the participant’s attitudes were more positive than their parents on the discussion of interracial relationships. In addition, there was no distinction in gender differences amongst interracial dating; however, there were gender differences in the parent’s approval of interracial relationships.
In detail, subject’s mothers exhibited stronger disapproval of interracial relationships than the fathers. In contrast, participants involved in interracial relationships indicated that their parents had a positive outlook on interracial unions. This study suggested that participants who attended an HBCU had a stronger opposition to interracial dating than participants at PWI’s. HBCUs place value and prestige in their ethnicity and the racial connection between Whites and Blacks attribute the prejudice in interracial relations.
Interracial Interpersonal Relationships and Multicultural Sensitivity Hunter and Elias (2000) examined the linkage between interracial friendships, multicultural sensitivity, and social competence. Researchers observed 5th grade students at an ethnically diverse public elementary school. Researchers used the Friendship Quality Questionnaire, Social Group Survey, Revised Class Play Survey, and the Who Are Your Friends Questionnaire to measure the quality of the participant’s interracial friendships, cultural attitudes, social competence, and peer relationships.
This study supported that girls who had high quality interracial friendships have greater multicultural sensitivity and are more socially competent than participants with no interracial friendships. Female participants classified with high quality interracial relationships had a favorable outlook on minority group acceptance and social competence according to their peers. This study illustrated a gender difference amongst participant’s acquaintanceship with peers outside their race.
Girls were more likely to be in a high quality interracial relationship, whereas boys were more likely to be in low quality interracial friendships indicating low level of social competence and multicultural sensitivity. This study suggests that individuals with high quality interracial friendships possess positive attitudes toward minority groups and social competence than individuals with little to no quality interracial contact. This study indicates that interracial contact breeds positive attitude about minority groups therefore, increasing openness to other cultures.
Theoretical Framework The Structural Theory and Racial Motivation Theory will be used to explain the influences of interracial relationships. The Structural Theory suggests that an individual’s demographic and mutual attraction contribute to the commencement and development of interracial relationships ((Kouri & Lasswell, 1993). In addition, the Racial Motivation Theory indicates that interracial unions occur because of racial differences (Kouri & Lasswell, 1993).
Specifically, an individual initiates interracial unions because the different racial attributes from another individual outside their race. Previous literature reveals that Structural Theory and/or Racial Motivation Theory influence individuals who interracially date even when it is socially disapproved of (Kouri & Lasswell, 1993). Contact hypothesis was proposed by Gordon Allport his theory proposed increased interracial contact is likely to cause positive beliefs about minority groups and decrease prejudice (Hunter & Elias, 2000).
Allport’s theory came attached with certain stipulations to ensure that interracial contact can lead to positive beliefs only when both members of a group are of equal status, the contact is intimate, encourages cooperative interdependence, and contact receives social approval (Hunter & Elias, 2000). Contact hypothesis has been studied for almost 50 years to test the validity of Gordon Allport’s theory. However, what contact hypothesis indicated was interracial contact did not always change the attitudes or beliefs towards a different race.
The contact hypothesis’ implications led researchers to develop a practical method to enhance positive interracial attitudes by applying contact hypothesis stipulations to cooperative learning theory. The Cooperative Learning theory encourages group activities with diversity in race and gender. Cooperative Learning theory was tested by Hunter & Elias (2000) with fifth grade students and indicated that students with high quality interracial riendships displayed positive attitudes toward minority groups and social competence than individuals with little to no quality interracial contact.
Current research intends to use Structural Theory and Racial Motivation Theory to support why individuals interracially date. In addition, researchers will use Gordon Allport’s social contact theory and cooperative learning theory to support that interracial contact leads to positive attitudes towards other races thereby increasing openness to other cultures.