Thursday, November 8, 2007

Yellow Fever

As an American living in China you naturally tend to notice your fellow foreigners as you go about your life, and pay them slightly more attention than you would to a passing Chinese - something about being a minority I suppose. Naturally, you notice the large number of Chinese-American couples, and the extreme prevalence of the male LaoWai, female Chinese match, and you begin to wonder about the dynamics of interracial attraction and dating.

Well, wonder no more because someone better educated and more dedicated than myself has done the hard work for me. A new article in slate reports the results of an economist's study of speed-dating in a bar.

Unsurprising: Men value looks, and are reluctant to date a woman who is smarter or more ambitious. Women emphasize success and intelligence, and have no problem with being number 2.

Surprising: Men have little in the way of racial preferences, but women of all races prefer members of their own race. The prevalence of white man-asian women matches is explained by a Asian women having no aversion to white men, but being less likely to date blacks or hispanics.

Perhaps the greater prejudice shown by women stems from the fact that women, in general, have much more to fear from a prospective partner than a man (vis a vis rape, murder, assault), and this has the effect of bringing out racial preferences.

Men having less prejudice also makes sense in a way. I like to think I care about intelligence and personality foremost, but if I'm being cynical about my preferences I care far more about overall hotness than membership in a particular race.

Some film students in California have their own take on the phenomenon:

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