Although I've always wanted this particular superhuman power, I've never been very good at detecting other men's sexual orientation. Findings from a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, however, suggest I may be underestimating my gaydar abilities.

The January 2008 study investigated people's ability to identify homosexual men from pictures of their faces alone. In an initial experiment, researchers Nicholas Rule and Nalini Ambady from Tufts University perused online dating sites and carefully selected 45 straight male faces and 45 gay male faces. All of these photos were matched for orientation (only faces shown looking forward were used) and facial alterations (none of the images contained jewelry, glasses or facial hair). To control for context, the faces were also cut and pasted onto a white background for the study. These 90 faces were then shown to 90 participants in random order, who were asked simply to judge the target's "probable sexual orientation" (gay or straight) by pressing a button. Surprisingly, all participants (both men and women) scored above chance on this gaydar task, correctly identifying the gay faces. Even more surprisingly, accuracy rate was just as good when the images were exposed at a rapid rate of only 50 milliseconds, which offered participants no opportunity to consciously process the photo. (read Scientific American article)

Tags: gay, gaydar, orientation, sexual

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I was thinking the same thing Matt. Without the physical tell tales you can't pick out an alcoholic, when he's sober, from any Joe Schmoe having a casual drink. Once we focus and start picking apart an individual's mannerism's and body language it gives us a hint as to which slot, or category, to stick him/her in.

I don't give a rat's ass as to anyone's sexual preference. Like you so eloquently put it about the wiring, hey, to each his own, what ever rocks your boat, live and let live...

This raises the question is some knowledge bad? Is it bad to know whether blacks are faster runners or Asians are better at math? 

Very interesting question.

Actually, depending on the severity of it, therr are a few tell tail signs of alcoholism that show on the face.  The small blood vessels usualy burst, giving the person a redder than usual nose along with red eyes.

I'm sure it matters to gays. You talk as if everyone is straight.

I'm sure it matters to gays. You talk as if everyone is straight.

Um, no.  If you perceive it that way, with all due respect, that's your baggage, not mine.


Y'know, I have a tough time believing that, in this day and age, that someone's sexual orientation matters at all.

In terms of human rights or dignity, it shouldn't. And I am opposed to the idea that people need to fit into discreet categories or stereotypes. Still, sexual identity is a massive portion of socialization, and part of that does mean recognizing and understanding where people are different as well as where they are the same.

In terms of scientific study (both 'hard' and 'soft' sciences), it is obvious that human sexuality is going to be an area of major curiosity including non-hetero, non-cis identities. It's not really a big deal to have an honest discussion on it.

I don't concern myself with whom is having sex with whom.  I'm more interested in what chemically/asthetically makes people want to have sex with a certain person.

Why not? You don't know whom any of your friends and family form sexual relationships with? You have no connection to their partners or that aspect of their lives? I mean, I'm not saying you need to know their favourite positions in bed or anything, but if someone you knew was in a relationship (typical or atypical), isn't that something toward which you would have some interest or sympathy?

Personally, while I don't care to dictate or judge other people's sex lives, sex is a massive part of being human, so I certainly care who is sleeping with whom to the extent people want to share and connect.

Yeah, I totally get your point, but that's not how my comment was intended (and somehow I feel like I'm being baited here).

My intended point was that I'm more concerned with the biological mechanisms by which attraction is made possible more than I am with whom is banging whom.

The same reason why I don't involve myself in celebrity worship or most popular lifestyle choices.  It simply doesn't interest me.

You aren't explaining anything by repeating the same statement.

I wasn't aware that I had to defend my position to you.

If you aren't getting what you feel like you need from me, then perhaps you can expedite the process by telling me what you're looking for.

Let's retrace the conversation for a moment. I quoted and addressed a statement of yours in which you stated you had a hard time believing that someone's sexual orientation matters at all in this day and age. Unless you are questioning your own mindset, I took this to mean you were wondering why it matters to other people, or perhaps to society at large.

I offered one facet of why it matters, which is that sexual identity is a significant element in social interaction. This means that we identify with others based both on how we identify and experience sexuality and how they experience it. In a generalized sense, sexual orientation is relevant to this. There are other avenues we could explore, but this is the one I chose for the moment.

To this you replied at the personal level with a statement that you do not care who sleeps with whom. 'care' is somewhat of an ambiguous term here, but I assumed it was used in a way which had some relevance to what I wrote on why sexual orientation matters. To say you don't care seemed to mean that you don't think it matters.

As you took it to the personal level, I tried to reiterate my position at the personal level, which is that it matters in the way you relate to those you know. Their sexuality is a part of their life, and certainly their sexual orientation becomes relevant to their experiences (in this day and age). This is not a contradiction to any of your statements, but I was requesting why you would not care even on this level.

To this you replied that was not how your statement was intended, but if I did not understand how your statement was intended, I am not sure why you would simply repeat it. In what way do you not care relevant to the statement that the role of sexual relationships in socialization makes sexual identity (specifically sexual orientation) matter?


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