1. Is it true that we were evolved to dislike people of other races genetically?
  2. If so, why are some people attracted to people of races other than their own?
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It's not true. Race isn't even a scientifically tenable concept really – genetic ancestry isn't classifiable into a usefully brief list of categories. $\endgroup$ Jul 8, 2014 at 4:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Race is not a biologically meaningful category. This question, I believe, is best answerable by a cultural anthropologist. $\endgroup$
    – lea
    Jul 9, 2014 at 7:33
  • $\begingroup$ Why are some (and not others?) attracted to people of other races? This is surely a matter of socialisation. Curiosity? We must consider too that if there is not some underlying genetic drive to 'mix it up', then why not? Diverse populations do tend to handle disease better, and sexual males in society perceivably rank better in an outward context from having 'tasted the rainbow'. $\endgroup$
    – PCARR
    May 16, 2016 at 14:28

2 Answers 2


This is in reply to your first question.

Taste – in food, music, and sex – is in part a result of imprinting. You find women or men attractive that are like your parents or the community you grew up in because of sexual imprinting (e.g. Aronsson, 2011).

Aronsson writes of a sensitive period where this imprinting happens, but I am not so sure that the development of aesthetic taste is actually limited to certain phases in a child's development. Caton et al. (2014) showed that children can acquire the taste for "greens" if they are repeatedly exposed to the food (e.g. having to eat one spoon every time spinach is served). And tobacco, beer, and coffee are prime examples for voluntarily "acquired tastes" later in life. Nevertheless, even an acquired taste is a result of exposure and habituation. Coffee, beer and tobacco are not "exotic" in our culture.

Bem (1996) posited the theory that adults find erotic what was exotic in their early childhood. Thus, a girl that felt different from other girls in childhood would become a lesbian, being attracted to what she was not. This theory has been refuted (e.g. Peplau et al., 1998) on the grounds that it was not supported by empirical evidence.

I could not find anything more substantial in psychological research during a cursory search. What I found are books and articles in cultural theory that look at the popularity of exotic women in the media (e.g. Mendible, 2010). Scanning the contents of those books, I thought that maybe men who are attracted to exotic women are not only attracted to their physical appearance, but also to what these women represent. Thus, Latin women may signify lust for life, African men might stand for physical prowess, Asian women might signify servility, or Oriental women might siginify sophistication and mystery. I'm just quoting some common stereotpyes here as examples for how attraction happens not only on the visual level but also in what we project into the person we desire. Men who like women with glasses might not find them visually beautiful, but might be attracted to the idea of an intelligent or "bookish" and shy person, and this fantasy and eroticsim will even hold despite a contradicting personality.

What I want to suggest with this is that reasons for some kinds of attractions might not be systematic (i.e. the same for a large enought group of persons to discover this connection through empirical studies) but widely different between individuals: one white man loving black women might love them for reasons completely unlike those of any other white man loving black women.

But maybe someone else has the time for a more thorough search and will find a study on this subject.



It is said that American society up to around 1950 came in three flavors, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. That America was intolerant of interracial marriage, which was against the law in many states.

An ice-cream metaphor for modern American society is Baskin-Robbins' 31 flavors. That society puts a premium on "diversity," including in dating and marriage.

Some people will want "variety" and will seek it through interracial marriage. Others will prefer uniformity and shun it. A third group may be swayed by a "side" factor, such as the chance to upgrade one's genes, or simply because they like a particular person, regardless of race.

But society defines and sometimes restricts our choices. The America of 1950 suppressed the "variety-seeking" type of people, meaning that only the bravest would violate then-prevailing taboos. It was only in the 1970s and later that one found many couples like the parents of (Yankees' baseball player) Derek Jeter (black father, white mother). But the success of that one couple may have encouraged many more.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.