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Front Psychol. 2010 May 7;1:13. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00013. eCollection 2010.

Sexual orientation biases attentional control: a possible gaydar mechanism.

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  • 1Cognitive Psychology Unit, Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, Leiden University Leiden, Netherlands.


Homosexuals are believed to have a "sixth sense" for recognizing each other, an ability referred to as gaydar. We considered that being a homosexual might rely on systematic practice of processing relatively specific, local perceptual features, which might lead to a corresponding chronic bias of attentional control. This was tested by comparing male and female homosexuals and heterosexuals - brought up in the same country and culture and matched in terms of race, intelligence, sex, mood, age, personality, religious background, educational style, and socio-economic situation - in their efficiency to process global and local features of hierarchically-constructed visual stimuli. Both homosexuals and heterosexuals showed better performance on global features - the standard global precedence effect. However, this effect was significantly reduced in homosexuals, suggesting a relative preference for detail. Findings are taken to demonstrate chronic, generalized biases in attentional control parameters that reflect the selective reward provided by the respective sexual orientation.


attention; global precedence; sexual orientation

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