Recent research by social scientists at Wayne State University show that the physical presence of romantic partners in intergroup friendships – friendships with different racial and ethnic groups, religious groups, or sexual orientations – positively influences interactions with people who are perceived to be different from themselves.
The study found that couples who interacted with couples of another race showed a greater positive attitude toward the other group than to same-race couple interactions. The researchers gathered data through written surveys and found that participants increased their level of self-disclosure over time.
“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 student 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.”
The study was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.