In a survey of attitudes about relationships, the students reported little disapproval of interracial couples.But photos of interracial couples triggered activity in a part of the brain that registers disgust.A study of college students at a large California university has found that people in interracial relationships tend to be more attractive than those dating someone of the same ethnicity.The research was published in the August issue of the .“Whereas previous research has found few consistent differences between interracial and intraracial daters in their motivations for dating and in their adjustment levels, this study suggests that interracial and intraracial daters may differ in their desirability as partners,” Karen Wu and her colleagues at the University of California, Irvine wrote in their study.“Across the three studies, interracial daters exhibited more desirable attributes than intraracial daters, most consistently in the realm of physical attractiveness.”An initial survey of 245 undergraduate students found interracial daters rated themselves more positively and thought their partners viewed them more positively.In the second study, 19 participants had their brain activity monitored by electroencephalogram (EEG).
“We chose to avoid adding an additional layer of complexity by restricting our investigation to heterosexual couples.” In the first experiment, 152 students were asked whether they accepted mixed-race relationships.
Participants were also asked whether they would date, marry or have a child with a black person.
Acceptance was high overall for both sets of relationships, but for those who disapproved, “the less accepting you are of interracial relationships, the more disgusted you are by them,” Skinner said.
Researchers found that the insula, a part of the brain that registers disgust, was highly active when participants viewed the photos of the interracial couples, but was not highly engaged when viewers saw the images of same-race couples, whether they were white or black.
“There’s a significant difference between the activation of the insula between interracial and same-race couples,” Skinner said.
While sitting in front of a computer, the photos of mixed-race and same-race couples were randomly shown to participants.