Peer Influence and Attraction to Interracial Romantic Relationships
The present research examined the effect of social influence on White, heterosexual individuals’ attraction to targets of varying races (White vs. Black) in two college student samples from the United States (one that leaned politically liberal and one that leaned politically conservative). Using a within-subjects experimental design, participants were given artificial peer evaluation data (positive, negative, or none) before providing ratings of attractiveness and dating interest for a series of targets. In both samples, positive information was associated with greater levels of attraction and dating interest than negative information, regardless of target race. Within the conservative sample, participants reported greater attraction toward and more dating interest in White targets relative to Black targets, while in the liberal sample, participants’ ratings of targets did not significantly differ from one another. These findings suggest that social influence can affect perceptions of attractiveness even in very different political climates.
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