Being in a romantic relationship with a partner who is friends with people from different racial and ethnic groups, religion or sexual orientation may help avoid prejudice and positively influence people who are perceived to be different from themselves, a new study conducted by Wayne State University researchers reveals.
The study, "Creating positive out-group attitudes through intergroup couple friendships and implications for compassionate love," currently available online in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, found that couples that interacted with couples of another race showed a greater positive attitude toward the other group than to same-race couple interactions.
Research participants spent time answering and asking questions that increased the level of self-disclosure over time. The conversations began with lower-level information and then escalated to more personal information.
"Our research found that there were more positive attitudes towards answering questions when there were intergroup couples interacting versus same-group couples or individuals," said Keith Welker, Ph.D., a Wayne State graduate and lead author of the study. "Our findings suggest that interacting in an intergroup context with the presence of your romantic partner is something that can improve your attitude toward other groups significantly rather than just interacting alone. This is because romantic partners can alleviate threats, help improve conversations and create something you have in common with other couples."