A new study measured the accuracy of using ‘Gaydar’ to determine if someone is straight or gay.
Researchers at the University of Washington surveyed 129 students who reviewed pictures of men and women of both sexual orientations. Each picture was shown for 50 milliseconds. Students were asked to use a person’s facial features such as their eyes, nose, or the combination of both to determine a person’s sexual orientation.
The responders found that they were able to correctly guess a person’s sexual preferences 50 to 60 percent of the time. Many of the students were able to identify a person’s orientation even when a picture was placed upside down.
“We may be doing this so efficiently that we may not even have to try to make this judgment,” said Joshua Tabak, one of the study’s researchers.
Previous ‘gaydar’ studies did not include the amount of people who rely on ‘gaydar’ to make these instant sexuality judgments.
Researchers were also able to determine how people did when comparing the sexual orientation of men versus women. The study found that participants were more accurate when it came to women than they were men.
"Why this is we can only speculate," Tabak said. "It's really interesting to speculate that there might be this ironic effect that because we're more familiar with the concept of gay men [in the media], maybe we're more liberal with labeling a man gay."
Tabak and his research team are now using brain imaging to evaluate a person’s brain activity as they review photos of gay and straight people, without knowing their orientations.
"You don't think about judging whether someone is a man or a woman," Tabak said. "You just know."
Study critics such as Ebony Magazine’s Michael Arceneaux believe that ‘gaydar’ is a bogus skill.
“This study seems a little flawed, so while I won’t say there aren’t times when I haven’t correctly spotted a fellow gay, there are plenty of times where it’s just wishful thinking on my part,” Arceaneaux admitted.