Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Candice Hargons

Second Advisor

Dr. Danelle Stevens-Watkins


Historically, research has identified Black relationships as deviant, unstable, and pathological as compared to White relationships (Frazier, 1966; Moynihan, 1965). This outlook centers on White experiences as a baseline for comparison and dismisses the cultural nuance within Black relationships. Examining intraracial Black relationship formation dynamics – specifically romantic partner preferences – using an intersectional framework seems more relevant as Black people are least likely of all races to date White people (Batson et al., 2006; Yancey, 2009). As Black immigrants continue to increase their presence in the U.S. (Anderson & López, 2018), the current research examines how cultural factors influence relational attitudes and partner preferences for ethnically diverse Black people in the U.S.

The first manuscript investigates how Black people’s gender, ethnicity, and regional backgrounds influence their partner’s skin color preferences. Results suggested that gender served as a mediator for both regional background and ethnicity, where international and Northeastern men had significantly higher endorsement of lighter skin as compared to Southern women, and the overall sample (majority cis women) preferred darker skin mates. The second study examines how endorsement of ethnic identity, racial identity, and Afrocentric beliefs impacts one’s desire to date within their racial or ethnic group. Results suggested that increased Afrocentric beliefs were associated with an increase in one’s desire to date both interethnically as well as intraracially. Racial centrality was also determined to be a significant factor in an individual’s desire to date intraracially, however ethnic commitment was not significant in one’s desire to date interethnically. Identifying how these differences manifest in Black relationships urges clinicians to improve treatment for Black couples by addressing differences in cultural identities and values that often are overlooked.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)