The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Q: ‘Can We Accurately Determine Someone Else’s Sexual Orientation Just By Their Appearance?’

Posted on | August 10, 2012 | 10 Comments

by Smitty

A. You had better be going to a costume party if you're that ducked up.

Via somebody on Twitter, sorry:

Some people can, to an eerie degree. A study from earlier this summer found that college students had “above-chance accuracy” when guessing whether people were straight or gay, even when they were shown faces without any contextual clues. Even when they only got to look for 50 milliseconds. Even when the faces were upside-down.
For those primed to detect sexual orientation (one author speculated that older people or those from other cultures might have a harder time), it would seem that facial features can be a semi-reliable indicator of sexual orientation.


10 Responses to “Q: ‘Can We Accurately Determine Someone Else’s Sexual Orientation Just By Their Appearance?’”

  1. Evilbloggerlady
    August 10th, 2012 @ 10:01 pm

    I think it is called Gaydar.  

  2. smitty
    August 10th, 2012 @ 10:07 pm


  3. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    August 10th, 2012 @ 11:49 pm

    I am able to tell that Rip Taylor, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Andrew Sullivan are gay.  I am that good!  

  4. crosspatch
    August 11th, 2012 @ 4:48 am

     Uhm, so?

  5. Deadman Turner
    August 11th, 2012 @ 4:59 am

    If I were participating in an unbiassed survey wherein I was presented one hundred pictures of the faces of randomly chosen people, I could just answer “straight” each time and be correct in 95% of cases.

  6. jwallin
    August 11th, 2012 @ 5:07 am

    I subscribe to the position that everyone is GAY.


  7. dwduck
    August 11th, 2012 @ 7:54 am

    And I’m sure these scientists presented a general population-appropriate mix of faces, right?

  8. scarymatt
    August 11th, 2012 @ 7:57 am

    But…P-Values! You have to follow the the links to get any sense of the statistics, like:

    For women’s faces, participants were 65 percent accurate in telling the difference between gay and straight faces when the photos flashed on a computer screen. Even when the faces were flipped upside down, participants were 61 percent accurate in telling the two apart.

    At 57 percent accuracy, they had a harder time differentiating gay men from straight men. The participants’ accuracy slipped to 53 percent — still statistically above chance — when the men’s faces appeared upside down.

    While I’m sure they were able to get their p-values below the magic value of 0.05, those numbers aren’t very impressive. Certainly worse than your scenario.

  9. george orwell
    August 11th, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

    So, all this means is that people can recognize a butch cut.  Duh!

    On the men it may be the mascara.  Not sure about that one.

  10. Bob Belvedere
    August 12th, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

    I used to have a great Gaydar, having been in the music business during the Punk/New Wave yesrs, but not anymore.  I think this is due to the feminization of male appearence.