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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
ELKTHUNDER, R. M. (2002). Attitudes of College Students Toward Interracial Dating. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 5. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved September 26, 2023 .

Attitudes of College Students Toward Interracial Dating
Missouri Western State University DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
This study investigated the effects of race and sex on college students’ views of interracial relationships. There were 54 volunteer participants in this study. The participants were composed of 43 females, 11 males; 9 participants were Black and 45 were White. There were 2 hypotheses made: males are more accepting of interracial dating, and same race couples are supported and approved of more than interracial couples. I did not find significant results to support the 2 hypotheses. The findings in this study are not consistent with the previous research that has been conducted.

According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census (1998) interracial couples composed of Black and White individuals has been steadily increasing from the 1960’s census to the 1992 current population survey. Yet, interracial relationships still remain discouraged in modern American Society. Black-White relationships have always been the least accepted and have received less support than other types of biracial relationships. Even with the rise of the interracial relationships it still remains a very controversial issue.

However, according to Knox, Zusman, Buffington, and Hemphill (2000), “increased individualism, tolerance for diversity, and greater minority enrollment in colleges and universities may result in more approving attitudes of college students toward interracial relationships.” With more individuals entering interracial relationships it is important to study the views on them. Aldridge (1978, as cited in Yancey & Yancey, 1997) feels that “to better understand the nature of race relationships, the study of interracial unions is extremely valuable.”

To determine interracial dating attitudes among college students, Knox et al. (2000) studied 620 never married undergraduates from East Carolina University. Participants voluntarily completed an anonymous questionnaire designed to assess the respondent’s openness to becoming involved in an interracial relationship. Knox et al. found that almost half (49.6%) of the respondents reported being open to involvement in an interracial relationship. They did not find significant differences in sex or university rank between those who were open to interracial involvement and those who were not. However, they did find significant differences in regard to race, cohabitation experience, previous interracial dating experience and openness to cohabit. In looking at the significant difference in regard to race, Knox et al. found that Blacks were twice as likely as Whites (83% vs. 43%) to report that they were open to involvement in an interracial relationship.

Clark, Windley, Jones and Ellis (1983) conducted a study to explore the relationship between dating patterns, dating preferences, and stereotypes of Black and White Americans, among Black college students on predominantly White campuses. Seventy-eight single Black college students from two mainly White universities in North Carolina answered a background information sheet on demographic data and completed a dating survey to assess their actual dating habits and preferences. It was found that the majority of Black students preferred and dated Blacks. It was also found that males were more involved in interracial casual dating and had more favorable stereotypes of both Black and White women than the Black female students. Ninety-four percent did indicate they would consider dating a person of another race.

To investigate interracial prejudice among White college students, Donscheski-Swinney (1999), conducted a study using 31 male and 50 female participants from Wayne State College. Donscheski-Swinney had the participants view two photographs, one of a man and one of a woman. The photographs were individual pictures of either a White, Black, or Hispanic man or woman. The author had nine different groups of participants look at different combinations of the photographs and rate the couples’ compatibility. It was found that the White woman/White man couple was rated significantly more positively than any other female/male couples. According to Donscheski-Swinney, the results suggested that White students view couples’ compatibility significantly more negatively for interracial or other-racial groups. This study was an extension of the authors previous research that only used photographs of a Black and White man and a White woman. The study paired the Black man and White woman or the White man with the same White woman, with no pairing done of a Black man and Black woman.

The purpose of the present study is to extend the previous research done by Donscheski-Swinney by including same race pairings and interracial pairings of Black and White individuals. The study is focused on the attitudes and approval of college students toward interracial dating. I hypothesize that males will be more accepting of interracial dating than women and that the same race couples will have an overall better level of approval. The rationale for my hypotheses is based on the results from previous research. The majority of the findings have shown that men are more accepting of interracial relationships and that same race couples are by far more approved of.


The participants consisted of 54 students that voluntarily agreed to engage in the study. All of the students were enrolled in a general education Psychology 101 course at Missouri Western State College. The race (Black or White) and gender of the participants was focused on.

The experimenter developed an identical fictional one-paragraph story about two people in four different photographs. An 8-item questionnaire asked participants to either support the couple’s relationship or disagree with it (see Appendix). Participants answered yes or no to the first five questions and three assessed their acceptance of the couple. The most negative answers consisted of no to question one, yes to question three and no to question five. Questions six and seven collected gender and race information. The final question was an open-ended question and allowed the participant to express their opinions.

The four photographs were of couples composed of a Black male/Black female, Black male/White female, White male/White female and White male/Black female. The same sexes have the same body builds, facial expressions and are of similar age. The same color background was used in all four photographs.

One of the photographs was attached to the story and questionnaire and given to each participant randomly in one of the two Psychology classes. There was no set amount of time given to the participants to view the photographs or to read the story and fill out the questionnaire.

A 2 (sex of subject) x 2 (interracial couple) between-subjects factorial ANOVA was calculated comparing the acceptability of marriage. The main effect for sex of the subject was not significant (F(1,50) = .282, p > .05). The main effect for whether or not it was an interracial couple was also not significant (F(1,50) = 2.04, p > .05). Finally, the interaction was not significant (F(1,50) = .047, p > .05). Thus, the acceptability of marriage is not affected by the sex of the subject or whether or not the couple is interracial.

A 2 (sex of subject) x 2 (interracial couple) between-subjects factorial ANOVA was calculated comparing the agreement with family disapproval. The main effect for sex of the subject was not significant (F(1,50) = .028, p > .05). The main effect for whether or not it was an interracial couple was also not significant (F(1,50) = 2.593, p > .05). Finally, the interaction was not significant (F(1,50) = .066, p > .05). Thus, the agreement with family disapproval is not affected by the sex of the subject or whether or not the couple is interracial.

A 2 (sex of subject) x 2 (interracial couple) between-subjects factorial ANOVA was calculated comparing the personal involvement in a relationship. The main effect for sex of the subject was not significant (F(1,50) = .753, p > .05). The main effect for whether or not it was an interracial couple was also not significant (F(1,50) = .074, p > .05). Finally, the interaction was not significant (F(1,50) = .074, p > .05). Thus, the personal involvement in a relationship is not affected by the sex of the subject or whether or not the couple is interracial.

I found no evidence to support my two initial hypotheses. My findings were not consistent with the findings of previous research. The differences could possibly be explained by the various limitations of this study.

My first hypothesis was that males would be more accepting of interracial dating than women. In a study done by Datzman and Gardner (2000), it was shown that typically men were found to have more positive attitudes than women towards interracial dating. This study was not consistent with Datzman and Gardner’s findings. I found that there was no significant difference between the sex of the subject and their level of acceptance. The lack of male participants in this study could have contributed to this outcome. Out of 54 participants, only 11 were male. It is possible that if more males had participated, I may have found significant evidence to support my first hypothesis.

The second hypothesis was that same race couples would have a better level of acceptance. I based this hypothesis on previous research that has found that non-Whites dating each other was more acceptable than non-Whites dating Whites. I found that there was no significance between the level of acceptability and whether or not the couple was interracial. The lack of different races that participated in this study could have contributed to this outcome. The 54 participants were racially composed of just 9 Black individuals and 45 White individuals. It is possible that if more Black individuals had participated in this study, and other races such as Hispanics, I may have found significant evidence to support my second hypothesis.

If a study similar to this were to be conducted in the future, some enhancements should be made. If scenarios similar to the ones used in this study were given to participants, future researchers should include more couples of different races. A larger sample would also contribute to a better future study. The larger sample would need to include a more diverse group of individuals so that the results will be more likely to generalize to a wider population.

Overall, because my hypotheses were not supported, my results do indicate that views toward interracial dating may be becoming more positive among college campuses. Despite this, additional research is definitely in great need because interracial relationships are becoming more and more common. Studies like this one and future studies can provide useful information for college students, faculty, and counselors about interracial relationships.

Clark, M., Windley, L., Jones, L., & Ellis, S. (1983). Dating preferences and patterns of black students on predominantly white campuses. Wake Forest University. Abstract retrieved April 3, 2002, from ERIC database.Datzman, J., Gardner, C. B. (2000). In my mind, we are all humans’. Marriage & Family Review, 30, 5-25.Donscheski-Swinney, A. D. (1999). Perceptions of couples’ compatibility: Racial bias. Journal of Psychological Inquiry, 4, 30-32.Knox, D., Zusman, M. E., Buffington, C., & Hemphill, G. (2000). Interracial dating attitudes among college students. College Student Journal, 34, 193-200.United States Bureau of the Census. (1998, June 10). Race of wife by race of husband: 1960, 1970, 1980, 1991, and 1992. Retrieved April 3, 2002, from http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/race/interractab1.txtYancey, G., & Yancey, S. (1997). Black-white differences in the use of personal advertisements for individuals seeking interracial relationships. Journal of Black Studies, 27, 650-668.Yancey, G., & Yancey, S. (1998). Interracial dating. Journal of Family Issues, 19, 334-348.


Candice and Alex have been dating for about a year and a half. They will be graduating this Spring and are very excited. They have a lot in common and they love spending time together. They spend much of their time together studying, going to the movies, relaxing and hanging out with friends. Alex wants to ask Candice to marry him after graduation, but knows for a fact that her family will not approve.

1. Do you think Alex should ask Candice to marry him? YES NO

2. Do you think people should be married at this young age? YES NO

3. Based on what you know about their relationship, do you agree with Candice’s family’s disapproval? YES NO

4. Would you want to get married shortly after graduation if you were in a serious relationship? YES NO

5. Would you be involved in a relationship like Alex and Candice’s? YES NO

6. Gender? M F 7. Race __________________

8. Do you have any advice for the couple?____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Submitted 4/23/2002 8:23:05 PM
Last Edited 4/29/2002 3:46:05 PM
Converted to New Site 03/09/2009

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