Gaydar is Real

January 24, 2008 at 8:45 am 3 comments

So says scientist from Tufts University:

Ambady and colleague Nicholas Rule, both at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, wondered about sexual orientation. They showed men and women photos of 90 faces belonging to homosexual men and heterosexual men for intervals ranging from 33 milliseconds to 10 seconds. When given 100 milliseconds or more to view a face, participants correctly identified sexual orientation nearly 70% of the time. Volunteers were less accurate at shorter durations, and their accuracy did not get better at durations beyond 100 milliseconds, the team reports in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. “What is most interesting is that increased exposure time did not improve the results,” says Ambady.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Steven  |  January 25, 2008 at 2:26 am

    I wonder how well they adjusted for identifiers such as hair length and style, facial hair, piercings, weight etc.

    What I find even more interesting is what inspired the study:

    “Humans are remarkably good at making snap judgments about others. In a hallmark study conducted by psychologists Nalini Ambady and Robert Rosenthal in 1994, people shown 2-second video clips of professors teaching formed opinions about the professors’ teaching abilities that were uncannily similar to evaluations written by students at the end of a semester. The results led psychologists to begin questioning what else people might detect in a glance.”

    Reply
  • 2. Rob  |  February 11, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    We actually had Nicholas Rule come in and talk to us today.

    They did adjust to take into account all sorts of identifies. In the study, only grayscale images of faces without facial hair and without piercings were used.

    And to make sure it wasn’t hair or eyebrows, they did further studies where they showed people just the mouth, and just the eyes, and the results were also on the side of accuracy.

    There’s some bad press about this study, but as a queer man, it actually is very interesting. Nick’s a gay man himself, not some scary old researcher trying to find some way to destroy gay people.

    Reply
  • 3. Michael Crawford  |  February 12, 2008 at 11:56 am

    I find it fascinating as well.

    Reply

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