Gaydar: It's All in the Eyes

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2009 12:40 PM CDT
Laura Fefchak, right, and Nancy Robinson, center, of Urbandale, Iowa, react to the ruling in favor of same-sex marriage from the Iowa Supreme Court, April 3, 2009.   (AP Photo/David Purdy)
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(Newser) – Gaydar is real, according to a new study, but only if you don’t think about it too hard. Participants were shown the faces of 98 straight women and 94 lesbians taken from a dating website, reports Miler-McCune, and were able to guess sexual orientation rapidly, at a rate better than chance. That held true even when the photos were cropped to include only the women’s eyes.

In a separate study, one group was told to identify the faces quickly, while another was to carefully consider each image. The snap-deciders proved accurate, while the thinkers did not, suggesting that conscious thought could inhibit the instinct. Researchers aren’t sure what causes the phenomenon; they hypothesize that lesbian faces may be more masculine “whether by nature, nurture, or both,” but aren’t sure what to make of the eyes-only result.