Men and women may choose their preferred interracial partners based on what types of faces they find most attractive, according to a new study.
In both the U.S. and the U.K., the pairings found within interracial marriages divide along gender lines, with white women more likely to marry black men than vice versa and white men more likely to marry Asian women than vice versa.
While most other studies on the subject focused on “racial status” and perceptions of masculinity and femininity as they relate to race, this study instead approached this gender asymmetry from the perspective of facial attractiveness.
“Researchers found Asian females and black
males were consistently rated more attractive.”
Researchers recruited 40 undergraduates (20 male and 20 female) from Cardiff University, and each participant was asked to rate the attractiveness of 600 faces from a sample from Facebook.
This sample was made up of faces of white individuals (from the U.K.), black individuals (from Sub-Saharan Africa) and Asian individuals (from East Asia).
Participants viewed 300 opposite-sex faces from each racial category and were asked to rate the attractiveness of each face.
Researchers found Asian females were consistently rated more attractive than white or black females, while black males were consistently rated more attractive than white or Asian males.
These findings remained consistent regardless of the race of the participant rating the faces, leading researchers to summarize:
“It is clear that physical attractiveness is not the only feature that people use in making a decision about the person they marry. The research reported here, however, indicates that attractiveness patterns across different races are sufficient to account for why such large gender asymmetries exist when people of various races marry.”