Being on Facebook and Dating Foreigners (SURVEY)

One of my students is working on her thesis related with personality variables and intentions to get married with people from different races. As we are also conducting several social media related projects, this time we just combined the questionnaires and the results were quite interesting.

We asked participants about their potential choice if they had to choose between an average looking foreigner (White) and average looking Japanese for a date. It turns out Japanese FB users are significantly more likely to choose a Foreign partner compared with FB light users and non users (28% versus 21%, the difference is statistically significant).

The same pattern emerged when we asked about marriage. Even though the majority of the respondents preferred Japanese to get married, still, the percentage who chose foreigners to get married was way higher among FB users compared with light users and non users (22% versus 15%, statistically significant).

Of course it is difficult to know which causes which (people who are interested in foreigners sign up for Facebook or people who start using Facebook develop more interest in foreigners) but it’s interesting to see that clear differences emerge between the adopters of foreign sns and nonusers, here in Japan.

Question1: You go to Gokon (Japanese version of speed dating) and get introduced to 2 people who seem to have good characteristics. They both have a stable job at a Japanese company and they both can speak Japanese. One of them is an average looking foreigner (White) and the other one is average looking Japanese. Which one would you choose? a) Definitely Japanese b) Probably Japanese c) Probably foreigner d) Definitely foreigner. We combined a,b (Japanese) and c,d (Foreigner) for the analysis.
Question2: You end up dating with both and realize that they both are nice. However you have to choose one of them to get married. Which one would you choose? the same answers

Methodology: This was an online questionnaire. The participants were 170 college students majoring in English who participated in the study in exchange for class credit. We combined FB non users and light users (a) uses once in a great while b) uses a few times a month) because we recently discovered that many users who are dissatisfied with FB do not cancel their accounts, just rarely use the service instead.

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2 Responses to Being on Facebook and Dating Foreigners (SURVEY)

  1. This is interesting….did you happen to record any data on how long the participants have been registered on Facebook? The reason I ask, is that I think that it is probable that more recent Japanese users of Facebook use Facebook to connect with other Japanese, compared with earlier registrants who would have started using Facebook because they had a foreign contact(s) whom they wanted to keep in contact with. If this is so, then the results you have posted here may be less likely to be seen among more recent Japanese Facebook users (who may not interact with as many foreigners on FB)…

    Indeed, in my own study earlier this year, results showed that the longer a Japanese Facebook user has been registered on Facebook, the more likely they are to consider themselves an ‘international person’. Of course, ‘international person’ needs defining, but like you, the question remains, Does Facebook use lead to feeling more ‘international’? or Are recent users of Facebook less international?

    Considering Mark Zuckerburg’s ‘tipping point’ theory (, it seems to me that in many ways the extended ‘Japanese network’ on Facebook is likely to be increasingly Japanese-dominated, therefore over time, results that you or I have obtained in the past will not be replicable in the future…unless of course some other factors cause a change in behavior between Japanese internet users online…

    In any case, thank you for sharing!

    • icctimes says:

      Very interesting point. Naturally there are supposed to be behavioral and attitudinal differences between the early adopters and laggards. In our sample we did not control for usage length but as you suggested,we can presume that most of them had been using the service for sometime now: they majored in English and reported having friends overseas. However, when it comes to the tipping point (local connections >international connections) I kindly disagree that FB will be a mainstream sns in Japan, just like the case in South Korea.
      Another interesting finding we observed was people “who have friends /acquaitances who got married to foreigners” were LESS likely to date or marry with foreigners. This came as a surprise since we expected the opposite. Then we came to conclude “they have “あこがれ” for foreigners, but once they get to know them closely that “あこがれ” kinda decreases. This is my students thesis, once its complete,Id be happy to share it with you. Thanks for your constructive comments…

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