A pair of researchers suggests dating apps and websites could be contributing to the recent spike in interracial marriages.
The study out of the National Academy of Sciences found “that when a society benefits from previously absent ties, social integration occurs rapidly, even if the number of partners met online is small.”
The authors, Josue Ortega and Philipp Hergovich, noted the findings are consistent with the sharp increase in interracial marriages in the U.S. in the last two decades. That’s the same time frame when dating websites like Match.com and OKCupid.com came online, and then the launch of the Tinder dating app a few years later.
In 1967, the Supreme Court invalidated laws that prohibited interracial marriage in the ruling of Loving vs. Virginia. In the decades since, interracial marriages have become more common.
News 4 took the study to a professor at Lindenwood University in St. Charles County. Stephanie Afful, Ph.D., is a social psychologist who studies race, specifically racial identity, racism, and interracial relationships. She said it makes sense that the two are connected, but doubts dating apps are the only reason for the shift.
“If we look back 50 years, the biggest predictor of attraction and who we might date or start a relationship with was proximity, so physical distance,” said Afful. “You were more likely to date someone who worked with you, went to the same school with you, lived in the same neighborhood as you. But now with social media and these dating apps, we have a much more diversified heterogeneous dating pool. We are likely to meet people who are different from us who live in a different area. And we would have not had that opportunity, had we not met online so I think it is, in essence, diversifying our dating pool.”
College students at Lindenwood University said the study makes sense and it’s not surprising.
“It’s a lot more common than you used to see. It used to be everyone stick to your own ethnicity but now it’s a lot more open,” said Lindenwood senior Kacey Adams.
Adams said he is in an interracial relationship, but they meet in high school, not on a dating app.
“I think society is being more accepting of people living their own lives and choosing their own route they want to take,” he said.
Adams’ classmate, Dene Standifer, agreed.
“I think it makes sense. It’s just a better way for people to meet from different areas,” said Standifer. “I’m in a interracial relationship now. I think it’s more acceptable because people are starting to turn a blind eye to it despite everything going on.”
Dr. Afful also pointed out that there are more interracial couples on TV and in media, and exposure often makes people more accepting. Plus, there are more biracial people in the United States. But, she stresses even though race might be the most obvious difference for an interracial couple, in most relationships, there are still more similarities. Things like common religion, socio-economic status, and hobbies play an even bigger role in attraction.