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J Sex Res. 2016;53(2):157-71. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2015.1015714. Epub 2015 Jul 28.

Inferences About Sexual Orientation: The Roles of Stereotypes, Faces, and The Gaydar Myth.

Author information

1
a Department of Psychology , University of Wisconsin-Madison , Madison , Wisconsin , USA.

Abstract

In the present work, we investigated the pop cultural idea that people have a sixth sense, called "gaydar," to detect who is gay. We propose that "gaydar" is an alternate label for using stereotypes to infer orientation (e.g., inferring that fashionable men are gay). Another account, however, argues that people possess a facial perception process that enables them to identify sexual orientation from facial structure. We report five experiments testing these accounts. Participants made gay-or-straight judgments about fictional targets that were constructed using experimentally manipulated stereotypic cues and real gay/straight people's face cues. These studies revealed that orientation is not visible from the face-purportedly "face-based" gaydar arises from a third-variable confound. People do, however, readily infer orientation from stereotypic attributes (e.g., fashion, career). Furthermore, the folk concept of gaydar serves as a legitimizing myth: Compared to a control group, people stereotyped more often when led to believe in gaydar, whereas people stereotyped less when told gaydar is an alternate label for stereotyping. Discussion focuses on the implications of the gaydar myth and why, contrary to some prior claims, stereotyping is highly unlikely to result in accurate judgments about orientation.

PMID:
26219212
PMCID:
PMC4731319
DOI:
10.1080/00224499.2015.1015714
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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