A new study published in PLoS ONE finds that college students have pretty accurate gaydar when it comes to guessing the sexual orientation of faces from photographers, reports Science Codex.
Interesting! But what’s even more interesting is that the students were more able to recognize gay female faces than gay male faces.
Could that be because lesbian characteristics are more noticeable when it comes to the face? Like, they tend to have short hair and facial piercings, whereas most gay men tend to try to do the “clean-cut” thing nowadays? Actually, the study controlled for that:
In the study, 129 college students viewed 96 photos each of young adult men and women who identified themselves as gay or straight. Concerned that facial hair, glasses, makeup and piercings might provide easy clues, the researchers only used photos of people who did not have such embellishments. They cropped the grayscale photos so that only faces, not hairstyles, were visible.
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.
The difference in accuracy for men’s and women’s faces was driven by more false alarm errors with men’s faces – that is, a higher rate of mistaking straight men’s faces as gay.
That’s probably because people are quick to call any non-Cro Magnon guy queer while women have some latitude.