Two wrinkles on this: We found no evidence of the stereotype of a white male preference for East Asian women. However, we also found that East Asian women did not discriminate against white men (only against black and Hispanic men). As a result, the white man-Asian woman pairing was the most common form of interracial dating—but because of the women's neutrality, not the men's pronounced preference. We also found that regional differences mattered. Daters of both sexes from south of the Mason-Dixon Line revealed much stronger same-race preferences than Northern daters.
Does all of this rational-choice stuff take the romance and mystery out of romance (just as some have accused my fellow economist Joel Waldfogel of taking the Christmas spirit out of Christmas)? I hope not. Our purpose is to understand how life-long relationships are formed. The first step in helping people find love and happiness is to figure out what they're really looking for in the first place.