The REAL ‘Stuff White People Like’

September 8th, 2010 by Christian Rudder

What is it that makes a culture unique? How are whites, blacks, Asians, or whoever different from everybody else? What tastes, interests, and concepts define an ethnic group? And is there any way to make fun of other races in public and get away with it?

These are big questions, and here's how we answered them.

We selected 526,000 OkCupid users at random and divided them into groups by their (self-stated) race. We then took all these people's profile essays (280 million words in total!) and isolated the words and phrases that made each racial group's essays statistically distinct from the others'.

For instance, it turns out that all kinds of people list sushi as one of their favorite foods. But Asians are the only group who also list sashimi; it's a racial outlier. Similarly, as we shall see, black people are 20 times more likely than everyone else to mention soul food, whereas no foods are distinct for white people, unless you count diet coke.

Using this kind of analysis, we were able find the interests, hobbies, tastes, and self-descriptions that are specially important to each racial group, as determined by the words of the group itself. The information in this article is not our opinion. It's data, aggregated from the essays of half a million real people.

So here's the real stuff white people like.

Click on the icons to toggle between men/women.

tom clancyvan halengolfingharley davidsonghostbustersphishthe big lebowskisoundgardenbrewboatingnofxgroundhog dayhockeyjeepblazing saddlesthe red soxthe dropkick murphysmegadethgrillingccrrobert heinleinboatsskiingzappanascarmotorcyclessoftwaredark towerthe hitchhiker's guide to the galaxybreaking badband of brothersburn noticecoen brothersmichael crichtonbad religiontenacious dmostly rocki'm a country boybuilding thingsqueens of the stone agemountain bikingi can fix anythingthe offspringa few beersapocalypse nowlock, stock, and two smoking barrelshunting and fishingmost sportsworld war zguitar

In general, I won't comment too much on these lists, because the whole point of this piece is to let the groups speak for themselves, but I have to say that the mind of the white man is the world's greatest sausagefest. Unless you're counting Queens of the Stone Age, there is not even one vaguely feminine thing on his list, and as far as broad categories go we have: sweaty guitar rock, bro-on-bro comedies, things with engines, and dystopias.

As for the interests of white women, you have romance novels, some country music, and a broad selection of Good Housekeeping type stuff. It's also amazing the extent to which their list shows a pastoral or rural self-mythology: bonfires, boating, horseback riding, thunderstorms. I remind you that OkCupid's user base is almost all in large cities, where to one degree or another, if you find yourself doing much of any of these things, civilization has come to an end.

If I had to choose over-arching themes for white people's lists, for men, I'd go with "frat house" and for women, "escapism." Whether one begot the other is a question I'll leave to the reader.

Stuff black people like.

soul foodi am coolespnplaying basketballmenace to societytall, dark, and handsomegod-fearingmos defrappinglupe fiasconasgucci manecalmthe rootskanye westbasketballboondockshollau arenfltrynatrey songzladiesalicia keysa tribe called questjay zoutkastafricanwwechillin'more moneydenzelif urgod and familyxbox 360playstationjamaicanmaking musictryin' toa good womanmy godtalib kwelibusta rhymesfootballbibleno kidshitchstationedlaid-back guy2pac

Hopefully it's been obvious that the font-size of a phrase indicates the relative frequency with which it appears. So, toggling between black men and black women above, you can see that while soul food is important to both, but it's really, really important to the women. In fact, soul food and black women is the single strongest phrase/group pair we found.

The above lists also make it clear that, regardless of whether Jesus himself was black, his most vocal followers definitely are. Religious expressions weren't among the top phrases for any of the other races, but they're all over the place for black men and (especially) black women, for whom 13 of the top 50 phrases are religious. Black people are more than twice as likely than average to mention their faith in their profiles.

Finally, it's worth noting that of the four lists we've seen so far, black women's is the only one to explicitly include someone of another race: Justin Timberlake.

Double finally, how bold is it that I am cool is the second most typical phrase for black men?

OkTrends Racial Stereotype #1

In the course of researching this article and, in particular, comparing white guys to black guys, a handy shortcut occurred to me:

If you're trying to figure out if white dudes like something, put fucking in the middle, and say it out loud. If it sounds totally badass, white dudes probably love it. Let's see this principle in practice:

Stuff Latinos like.

merenguebachatacolombianhispaniclatinodominicanstationedperuvianreggaetonfamiliacubanmusicasalsasocceramigosperuboxingautomotivebaseballholamarinesmmahip hopufci'm a funny guyrespectfulmars voltasome drinkswhat usportsu wannaxbox 360of mice and menchillcomedyart of warvery funnysaving private ryani'm a simple guyhip hopfull metal jacketdown to earth guyworld war zlaw enforcementoutgoing and funnybarsattending collegeforrest gumpthe strokesall sports

Music and dancing—merengue, bachata, reggaeton, salsa—are obviously very important to Latinos of both genders. The men have two other fascinating things going on: an interest in telling you about their sense of humor (i'm a funny guy, very funny, outgoing and funny, etc.) and an interest in industrial strength ass-kicking (mma, ufc, boxing, marines, etc.) Basically, if a Latin dude tells you a joke, you should laugh.

OkTrends Racial Stereotype #2

El chiste de knock-knock:

Latinas' interests are fairly typical for a dating site: you got friends, career, education, movies, music, a few physical details, and, oh yeah...morbid fear. We dug further into I'm terrified of (on their list at #42) and found which words typically came next. It's mostly insects and "the dark", though one expert tautologist is "terrified of being scared" and another woman is "terrified of Martians."

I feel obligated to state, on behalf of white men everywhere: That woman should get a grip. Martians are nothing compared to the Sardaukar.

Stuff Asians like.

taiwani'm a simple guykoreaasianssingaporephokoreansoftware developermandarinplaying basketballnoodlevietnamcricketfreakonomicsmechanical engineerthe rocktrying out new thingsa foodiean engineertom clancycalvin & hobbesbay areamuay thaisurfing the nettennisbadmintongadgetsentourageasian foodthe bayentrepreneursashimil.a. confidentialanalystsnowboardingswingersmalcolm gladwellfinancechinaaccountantvancouverpursuing myinvestinggladiatorelectrical engineeringcantoneseinvestmentcurrently studyingdifferent culturescomputer games

As you can see, both Asian men and women choose I'm simple as their go-to self-description. Contrast this to black men's I am cool and Latinos' I'm a funny guy. It's also interesting that Asian men very often mention their specific heritage (taiwan, korea, singapore, vietnam, china) while Asian women don't.

OkTrends Racial Stereotype #3

Combing through these lists, you can see the different ways women use cosmetics:

  • White women show off their eyes (mascara is #5 on their list).
  • Black women show off their lips (lip gloss, #7).
  • Latinas show off both (mascara, #18 / lip gloss, #22).
  • Asian women, however, show off their practicality (lip balm, #48).
. . .

So far, I've gone through racial groups in order of their prominence on OkCupid. For brevity (I know this is the internet), I'll present the remaining lists without foolish commentary. You can click any of the links to reveal them inline.

Stuff Indians like...
Stuff Middle Easterners like...
Stuff Pacific Islanders like...

Sidenote: reading level

Since we were parsing all this text anyway, we thought it would be cool to do some basic reading-level analysis on what people had written about themselves. We used the Coleman-Liau Index, and when we partitioned the essays by the race of the writers, we found this:

Before anyone gets too charged-up about this, we also ran reading level by religion and found this:

Is there a Comic Sans version of the Bible? There really should be. We subdivided this chart further, by how serious each person was about their beliefs:

Note that for each of the faith-based belief systems I've listed, the people who are the least serious about them write at the highest level. On the other hand, the people who are most serious about not having faith (i.e. the "very serious" agnostics and atheists) score higher than any religious groups.

. . .

We'll be revisiting race later this month, with a statistical investigation of interracial dating, and we're almost finished with the article on (bi-)sexuality we promised last time. Thanks for reading, everyone.

Till next time,

Max Shron and Aditya Mukerjee contributed additional research to this post.
OkTrends is hiring.
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583 Responses to “The REAL ‘Stuff White People Like’”

  1. Leslie says:

    Rob Says:

    Thom Goodsell says:
    “Finally, it’s worth noting that OF THE FOUR LISTS WE’VE SEEN SO FAR black women’s is the only one to explicitly include someone of another race: Justin Timberlake.”

    No. Latinas also explicitly include someone of another race. Alicia Keys is black. And not Black Latina. Just black (and white, but definitely not Latina).

    Just sayin’

    Reading comprehension… you must be a protestant.

    Just sayin’


    1. White men
    2. White women
    3. Black men
    4. Black women

    Just sayin’

  2. Hydrozii says:

    Agnosticism is not a religion

  3. Andrew says:

    It is definitely wise that no one jump to any conclusions based on this. The data is what it is, but this is all very poor sociology. As for race and writing proficiency, it fits that Asians would score higher because I’m guessing America is where most the samples came from, and Asian-Americans typically come from professional/academic families. If this study was done in China, then I would expect the opposite would be true (non-Asian ethnic groups there are mostly professionals.)

    And as it was said above, religion is not causative. I converted to Catholicism three or four years ago from atheism, and I think I can safely say that my writing level didn’t drop two grades at baptism.

  4. Jman says:

    The best way to categorize you white people group is “redneck”… anyway:

    It’s worth realizing that these are not so much what lots of White people or black people or whatever love, but what are racial outliers. I feel this was not stressed enough in the article. What is a “white racial outlier” that isn’t shared by other races? Being a redneck, aforementioned, which is basically what the white columns were. Most of anyone of any race’s profiles is going to be pretty non-racial. I read profiles of all types of girls and haven’t seen much racial variance here in the Bay Area. But aggregate racial variance and outliers and you will get redneck white people, religious black women, mba engineer indian dudes, partying family oriented latinas, etc. But while those are the outliers, those outliers aren’t even necessarily that present.

    Maybe “soul food” was so big because only black people mentioned them, making it a huge outlier, even if only 1% of black profiles mentioned soul food.

    This is all about *outliers.*

  5. jazja says:

    I am a little concerned that the way the analysis was done was specifically to look at words that differentiated the races and then the conclusions drawn base on the assumption that these words define group preferences. It’s not impossible that there are a multitude of terms that everyone uses, which actually *is* “stuff white guys like” but also “what black guys like” and “what black chicks like”. Then a very very few Asians say “Jason Mraz” in their profiles but **no one else does**, and that becomes a term that, in the way the analysis is reported, becomes “what Asian women want”.

    It’s a neat analysis, but the interpretation is written in a way that misrepresents what was actually done (apart from the last 2 charts, which, as I understand, provide absolute values).

    Thanks, OKC!

  6. Paul says:

    Very interesting, got me thinking. Does this data reflect what people really think, or what they feel they “ought” to think in order to attract a partner? This is not to say that all singletons wilfully misdescribe themselves, but data collected over 500,000 people might reveal a bias towards race/gender stereotypes.

    A different example: at a business networking meeting with strangers people often dress more smartly than usual to give a good first impression. At that initial meeting they lean more towards perceived stereotypes of what’s “normal” or “acceptable” in order to seem more approachable, then show more individuality later when it seems safer.

  7. a traveler says:

    @Lly : Actually I disagree. What you call the “most difficult to comprehend” levels are the levels I find far easier to understand. The reason is precision. People who write on lower levels just don’t really express their ideas, so what they say/write could mean a lot, but because there is often a common understanding they understand each other. Oblivious to the fact, that what they say could be interpreted in thousands of ways.

  8. Adam says:

    Dr CHAR, it’s a legitimate reflection of ok Cupid users.

    Where did they say this represented the whole country?

    It’s not like black people like Van Halen. It’s not like it’s inaccurate.

    Take it for what it is.

  9. Tricia Levy says:

    I am Jamaican and have very little in common with African American women. The data does not acknowledge the differences of people from other countries.

  10. Rosie says:

    Asian women show off their practicality? I grew up around many Asian women and if by practical you mean ‘has draws full of make-up to plaster their faces with’ or overuse of lightening creams..etc, then this is accurate. From my observations, white women and black women wear the least amount of make-up… of course there are exceptions, though I do think most asian women literally ‘put on their face’ in the morning.

  11. KC_Hitman says:

    Looks like someone had fun poking at all ethnicities with questions that were of THEIR interest. It could be so easy to skew the facts that were found to suit the agenda of whatever the author was seeking. This was the Bell Curve of OkCupid. Its hard to say this was racist though. Makes you wonder why it was titled “The REAL Stuff White People Like”, and not titled with another race. That seems more of a preferance though.

    I don’t think you can generalize any race or culture in a free pay site, there are just too many differencies of opinions. HAVE YOU READ SOME OF THESE PROFILES?
    I don’t think everyone of each respective race falls in line with these results,,,not from the profiles I have read. People seem to be light-hearted, or hard core. Seems like there is no in between nowadays. To get to the truth, man, you gotta’ find that middle ground..

    You could sell this to the radicals in the tea party and they will make something racist out of it though…lol

  12. Andrew says:

    Is it me or do Asian people seem to kind of be more white than white people?

  13. Fred says:

    OMG ! Apparently I’m Asian. What are my parents going to say ? Last time I checked I was a white guy. That’s it, I’m dyeing my hair black, tinting up my skin and getting eye surgery to fix my Bambi’s into an inscrutable squint. I need to be with my people. Unlike most Asian guys I am actually good at martial arts though, I hope that isn’t a stereotyping doublethink “tell” that I wasn’t born Asian.

  14. Iain says:

    Just a minor note. But this is say “White American” really right? I mean who the hell are the Red Sox?

  15. Gunslingergregi says:

    Those graphs are counterintuitive actually because it is a free site and it is probably saying that above those reading levels the people have not so much of a problem getting dates or can afford the paying sites.

    Or people stronger in religion actually have an easier time at getting dates/married.

    Or that aethiests are having a harder time than anyone else in the dating market as their smartest people have to go to a free dating site. he he he

  16. b0 says:

    So what always happens to the “Red” people? you know there are 4! colors. No white guys you didn’t kill them all off. Native Americans are alive and well. I guess US citizens want to keep us hidden and out of the worlds discussions because we are living examples of their thirst to own everything. What is happening in Iraq is just the second coming of the SAME! cavalierly. So take your Christian attitude that God only loves you and what you can’t buy you will take by force and stick it.

  17. f3ralanarchy says:

    i have a hard time believing most of the stuff listed for black males and females on here. simply because after being on this site for about 2 years i notice that most of the blacks on okc me included have tastes and likes that stand outside of the “black societal norm”. now at the same time like another black person stated earlier this would fit for alot of blacks that we know. so i wonder if the black males and females that answered these questions answered by what the black norm would have answered.

  18. wendy says:

    it’s just a comical exploration people! good gawd, lighten up. do you really think it’s a profound investigation of the nature of humanity?!
    christian, yer high-larious!

  19. StudentPrince says:

    Interesting results: I’m “whiter” than I thought, but not as bad as some, and I might have a chance with a Pacific Islander!

  20. Hmmm says:

    Why did he divide Christians into 2 subgroups, and did not do so with the other religious faiths?

  21. Steefen says:

    Statistics by skin color are a waste of time and keeps people dumber than dogs. Do you think a Black-coated Labrador Retriever finds it a big deal that another Lab is Brown-coated? Transcend the minutia, will you?

    Statistics by blood type and geno type are far more interesting and educational. See Live Right for Your Type by Peter D’Adamo. Also See The GenoType Diet by Peter D’Adamo.

    OKCupid also sets out a bucket for its members to enter their Western Astrology Tropical Sun Sign. It does not ask in which house or on what cusp is the Sun Sign. Statistics by Sun Sign are not as important as statistics by North Node with an indication of house or cusp.

    Steefen, Author-Playwright
    - Water Bearing Fish, Part I
    - Insights on the Exodus, King David, and Jesus, The Greatest Bible Study in Historical Accuracy

  22. Charlotte says:

    Can your next study examine the correlation between atheists and smugness? I bet it’d be off the charts.

  23. loremipsum_taco says:

    interesting article — i’d wondered if anyone ever sat down to perform content analysis on online dating profiles, because it seemed like a goldmine. good to see someone has =)

    would it be possible in the future to include some description of the subject pool? e.g., what percentages of the total pool were white, black, asian, latino/a? compared to the total number of users of each “race” on okc, what percentages were selected in the sample (e.g., 10% of all black members)? average age of total pool, average age as separated by “race”, etc., etc., etc. while i’m not going after your current analysis method, it would be great to have some sense of representativeness =)

  24. This guy says:

    Uh, alright. I identified with the Asian stereotypes. Both masculine and feminine. This would be normal…. if I were Asian. But I’m both black and white. Maybe black + white =Asian? They really should have included a bi-racial section in this. Anyway, I love Korean and Thai food. And I’m pretty sure a lot of the words about that in my profile contributed to that.

    As a super atheist, it made me proud to know we usually have a higher writing level. Call me pretentious or what have you, but it’s a refreshing notion.

  25. holodroid says:

    What weird kind of coincidence makes “A Tribe Called Quest” high on both the black men’s and pacific island women’s list?

    Jayemel, I can’t even hope to aspire to apathy.

  26. Asian + White male says:

    I need to be less simple…and i need to watch the big lebowski. and oh the things i need…I need to convert to buddhism but not take it seriously, then I’m gonna be the smartest.

    Seriously, I found this interesting. Please people, don’t take it too seriously!

    Oh and @Steve von Maas, really cool comment about the possibility we are all making rather dishonest profiles and instead filtering our descriptions of ourselves with how we view positive stereotypes. Are we all just bending reality to make ourselves more attractive and unique to the opposite sex…and all doing it in far too similar ways?

  27. pixeltan says:

    Your sampling is only limited to this site which is its own demographic. This leads to a skew of what (insert ethnic background here) really likes. Its entertaining nonetheless.

  28. Tongue-fu says:

    Can’t FUCKING relate… just your typical unaverage white boy…Play that funky music. HAHA…Golf? Golf? WTF?

  29. Margo says:

    This is pretty interesting. Good read. 95% of what other women of my race like I don’t LOL

  30. Co says:

    Now I am by profession an Epidemiologist….which means statistics, in my case of health related factors, is my holly grail. And, not even my obsessive compulsive ass is expecting this to be a peer review quality BLOG post. Kinda funny….if its acurate, its interesting that people annotate their race and then seem to Self-stereotype themselves so well.

    By the way, Correlation and Linkage are scientific terms we should not use out of place.

  31. FordCustomline says:

    Sweeping generalities? Sure.

    True for every single person? Hell no.

    But I does like me some Diet fucking Coke.

    Funny thing about religion vs. writing… I’d suspected an inverse proportionality between religiosity and intellect. But why do the Jews and Buddhists have to screw with my hypothesis? I hate it when facts get in the way of what I want to believe…

  32. Jneg says:

    Race is simply a construct of society. Biologically speaking, it doesn’t exist. Culture definitely does. But, I’m white, and I’m more genetically close to a man from zimbabwe than I am to another white American. Not that I have any issues with this post. I just think more people should know this and stop being so bigoted, because, in the end, we are all the same. Not culturally, perhaps, but genetically.

  33. afwildcat 4life says:

    I really love how those people who dislike the results of studies put so much effort into then discrediting those studies. Typically suveys with populaitons totally 1000 of 10,000 are considered adequate within the sciences; with a population of 526,000 [THOUSAND] profiles in the statistical analysis, the error bars aren’t going to be that big – you’re looking at error between 2 and 5%!

    Of course, if you don’t like the results of a survey, you can always turn up your nose and bury your head in the sand and scream “It’s just a stereotype! It’s just a stereotype!” No wonder this country is no longer number one in the world. Yeah, I said it. One part of personal growth is learning to use statistics to reflect on personal behavior, and then use that knowledge to make an informed decision on how to change yourself to make yourself better. You can’t have personal growth if you spend all your time in denial, screaming “it’s jsst a stereotype! It’s jsut a stereotype!” That’s the beginning of Ignorance!

    Oh yeah…So if the text measures readability, it means I need a 9th grade reading level to understand an Atheist’s profile, and an 8th grade reading level to understand a christian’s profile? So then, would it not follow that the composition level of the Atheist’s post is at a 9th grade level, and the christian’s composition level is at an 8th grade level? Me thinks this revelation might be the difference between an 8th grade reading level and a 9th grade reading level! One can understand higher order logic [if it is written that A = B, then it is also infered that B = A] and the other can only understand logic in one way [if it is written that A =B, then A = B and THAT'S IT!]