This study determines the racial and ethnic differences associated with the perceptions and intentions of online dating amongst emerging adults through a framework guided by symbolic interaction and sexual scripts to understand how perceptions and intentions of online dating are influenced by cultural and interpersonally crafted scripts of appropriate dating, romantic, and sexual behavior. 451 emerging adults, between 18 and 30 years old were sampled. Several differences were found based on race/ethnicity, pertaining to perceptions of dating sites and online dating users. The intention of casual, sexual relationships was found to have the most varied perception based on race/ethnicity and site. Perceptions of online daters was overall similar amongst racial/ethnic groups; only two of thirteen characteristics showed differences: being anti-social and difficulty cultivating in-person relationships. As technology continues to grow and online dating acceptability expands, varied online dating sites are likely to arise. Further research is needed to examine the effects of race/ethnicity on individuals’ engagement with online dating and the effects of their perceptions.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Alhabash, S., Hales, K., Baek, J., & Oh, H. J. (2014). Effects of race, visual anonymity, and social category salience on online dating outcomes. Computers in Human Behavior,35, 22–32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.02.016.
Arnett, J. J. (2007). Socialization in emerging adulthood: From the family to the wider world, from socialization to self-socialization. In Grusec, J. E. & Hastings, P. D. (Eds.) Handbook of socialization: Theory and research (p. 208–231). Guilford Press.
Bearak, J. M. (2014). Casual contraception in casual sex: Life-cycle change in undergraduates’ sexual behavior in hookups. Social Forces,93(2), 483–513.
Blumer, H. (1969). Symbolic interactionism: Perspective and method. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.
Carroll, J. S., Badger, S., Willoughby, B. J., Nelson, L. J., Madsen, S. D., & McNamara Barry, C. (2009). Ready or not? Criteria for marriage readiness among emerging adults. Journal of Adolescent Research,24(3), 349–375.
Curington, C. V., Lin, K., & Lundquist, J. H. (2015). Positioning multiraciality in cyberspace: Treatment of multiracial daters in an online dating website. American Sociological Review,80(4), 764–788. https://doi.org/10.1177/0003122415591268.
Gatter, K., & Hodkinson, K. (2016). On the differences between tinder versus online dating agencies: Questioning a myth. An exploratory study. Cogent Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1080/23311908.2016.1162414.
Hall, N. M., Lee, A. K., & Witherspoon, D. D. (2014). Factors influencing dating experiences among African American emerging adults. Emerging Adulthood,2(3), 184–194. https://doi.org/10.1177/2167696813520154.
Herman, M. R., & Campbell, M. E. (2012). I wouldn’t, but you can: Attitudes toward interracial relationships. Social Science Research,41(2), 343.
Huck, S. W. (2008). Reading statistics and research (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Hwang, W. (2013). Who are people willing to date? Ethnic and gender patterns in online dating. Race and Social Problems,5(1), 28–40. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12552-012-9082-6.
IBM Corp. (2015). IDM SPSS Statistics for Macintosh, Version 23.0. Armonk: IBM Corp.
Jackson, P., Kleiner, S., Geist, C., & Cebulko, K. (2011). Conventions of courtship: Gender and race differences in the significance of dating rituals. Journal of Family Issues,32(5), 629–652. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X10395113.
Johnson, K., Vilceanu, M. O., & Pontes, M. C. (2017). Use of online dating websites and dating apps: Finding and implications for LGB populations. Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness,11(3), 60–66.
Kao, G., Joyner, K., & Balistreri, K. S. (2019). The company we keep: Interracial friendships and romantic relationships from adolescence to adulthood. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
McGrath, A. R., Tsunokai, G. T., Schultz, M., Kavanagh, J., & Tarrence, J. A. (2016). Differing shades of colour: Online dating preferences of biracial individuals. Ethnic and Racial Studies,39(11), 1920–1942. https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2015.1131313.
Park, R. (2000). The nature of race relations. In L. Back & J. Solomos (Eds.), Theories of race and racism: A reader (pp. 105–112). New York: Routledge.
Payne, K. K. (2012). Median age at first marriage, 2010. National Center for Family and Marriage Research. 26.
Robnett, B., & Feliciano, C. (2011). Patterns of racial-ethnic exclusion by internet daters. Social Forces,89(3), 807–828. https://doi.org/10.1093/sf/89.3.807.
Sautter, J., Tippett, R., & Morgan, S. (2010). The social demography of internet dating in the United States. Social Science Quarterly,91(2), 554–575.
Shenhav, S., Campos, B., & Goldberg, W. A. (2017). Dating out is intercultural: Experience and perceived parent disapproval by ethnicity and immigrant generation. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,34(3), 397–422. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407516640387.
Simon, W., & Gagnon, J. H. (1986). Sexual scripts: Permanence and change. Archives of Sexual Behavior,15(2), 97–120. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01542219.
Simon, W., & Gagnon, J. H. (2003). Sexual scripts: Origins, influences and changes. Qualitative Sociology,26(4), 491–497. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:QUAS.0000005053.99846.e5.
Sumter, S. R., Vandenbosch, L., & Ligtenberg, L. (2017). Love me tinder: Untangling emerging adults’ motivations for using the dating application tinder. Telematics and Informatics,34(1), 67–78. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tele.2016.04.009.
Taylor, A. C., Rappleyea, D. L., Fang, X., & Cannon, D. (2013). Emerging adults’ perceptions of acceptable behaviors prior to forming a committed, dating relationship. Journal of Adult Development,20(4), 173–184. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10804-013-9169-3.
Tsunokai, G. T., McGrath, A. R., & Kavanagh, J. K. (2014). Online dating preferences of Asian Americans. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,31(6), 796–814. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407513505925.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2016). The economics daily [Data file]. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2017/69-point-7-percent-of-2016-high-school-graduates-enrolled-in-college-in-october-2016.htm.
Willoughby, B. J., Hall, S. S., & Luczak, H. P. (2015). Marital paradigms: A conceptual framework for marital attitudes, values, and beliefs. Journal of Family Issues,36(2), 188–211. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X13487677.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Almond, L., Rodriguez-Vongsavanh, Y. & Taylor, A. Racial and Ethnic Influence in Online Dating Perceptions. Sexuality & Culture (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-020-09763-z