Dating another race
“The test feels like being on Tinder.” When Buzz Feed writer Anne Helen Petersen built her own tiny version of Tinder for a study she conducted on bias in online dating last year, her conclusion was a good bit more interesting than “people are racist.” Petersen, who got her doctorate in media studies from the University of Texas at Austin, took about 60 stock photos of individuals (30 men and 30 women), ran them through Instagram-like filters for authenticity, and nestled them in the middle of Tinder frames.She then circulated the experiment on social media, letting participants swipe left or right based on attractiveness, just like real Tinder.
“Both men and women of all political persuasions act as if they prefer same-race relationships even when they claim not to,” the researchers wrote.
The students were shown a series of faces of black and white people and then were immediately asked to categorize words as either positive or negative as quickly as possible after looking at a face.
The researchers found that people were significantly faster at sorting unpleasant words after being shown a black face and, conversely, faster at sorting pleasant words after looking at a white face.
According to Christian Rudder, the Harvard-educated data whiz who founded Ok Cupid, that’s not actually how it works. In a 2009 post on the dating site’s Ok Trends dating research blog, Rudder noted that there’s very little variation in how people of different races match up with each other based on the site’s algorithm, which analyzes their interests and spits out a score showing their compatibility.
There is a tight correlation between how well two people match each other and how likely they are to message each other back and forth—the best sign the site’s operators have that a relationship is blossoming.