Yellow fever a myth?


Cover of Gina Marchetti’s Yellow Peril

Online magazine Slate has published an article by Ray Fisman about a study on dating preferences conducted in New York, titled An Economist Goes to a Bar:

[F]or a couple of years at a local bar just off the Columbia campus, I ran a speed-dating experiment with two psychologists, Sheena Iyengar and Itamar Simonson, and fellow economist Emir Kamenica. Some of our findings confirm well-worn clichés. But others surprised us.

This is one of the surprising results:

Women of all the races we studied revealed a strong preference for men of their own race: White women were more likely to choose white men; black women preferred black men; East Asian women preferred East Asian men; Hispanic women preferred Hispanic men. But men don’t seem to discriminate based on race when it comes to dating. A woman’s race had no effect on the men’s choices.

Two wrinkles on this: We found no evidence of the stereotype of a white male preference for East Asian women. However, we also found that East Asian women did not discriminate against white men (only against black and Hispanic men). As a result, the white man-Asian woman pairing was the most common form of interracial dating—but because of the women’s neutrality, not the men’s pronounced preference.

Based on more than a decade of being a white man in Asia and observing other white men in Asia, your correspondent has seen with his own eyes evidence of a white male preference for East Asian women. But perhaps white males in Asia do not represent the average American white male who lives in America.

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