Lewis couldn’t tell how extensive the contacts were — whether these people had just exchanged pleasantries or had actually gone on dates or made it to the aisle. (MORE: Why We Don’t Trust Online-Dating Sites — but Use Them Anyway) Reaching out to someone of a different ethnic background may be awkward because online users engage in what Lewis calls “pre-emptive discrimination.” That is, they expect — based on the way race has shaped their lives so far — rejection, or at the very least, to have little in common with someone who doesn’t share their heritage.
Then, when people read your profile, they can send you a “Message” within the site, indicating their interest in you.
What the data show pretty clearly is that in figuring out who gets “messages” and “replies” – or traffic from potential dates – race matters.
But, says Lewis, his data suggests that if someone — more likely a man, according to the data — makes the first move, and overcomes his fear of rejection, online daters realize the pool of potential partners may be wider and richer than they had previously imagined, and they tend to initiate more interracial contacts and to respond to ones that come their way more often.
Lewis is the first to admit that the study is small and has obvious limitations.
Valentine’s Day for many people means (re-)subscribing to an online dating service.
According to some estimates, more than 20 million people per month use online dating services. The folks at OKCupid have interesting data about this, and the answer is: yes.
According to our internal metrics, at least, Ok Cupid’s users are better-educated, younger, and far more progressive than the norm, so I can imagine that many sites would actually have worse race stats.
It’s an interesting point that highlights in many ways, how facile our thinking is when it comes to race and racism.
The patterns for the straight crowd looks like this (from here): The interesting contradiction is that OKCupid also asks people “Is interracial marriage a bad idea?
” and, as with most liberals, the responses are overwhelmingly positive in the direction of “no, not a bad idea” (98% answering in the negative to the question).
They also ask “Would you prefer to date someone of your own skin color/racial background? OKCupid chalks this up to a collective “schizophrenia” about race.