Outing Through Vowels

BY Advocate.com Editors

May 23 2011 6:45 PM ET

A study conducted by Ohio State University psychologists found people can often determine the sexual orientation of men by the way they pronounce a, e, i, o, and u.

Seven gay and seven straight men were asked to pronounce single-syllable words like "mass," "food," and "sell." Study participants listened to the first letter sounds of the words and often couldn't determine the man's orientation — but upon hearing the vowel, the respondents picked the correct orientation 75% of the time.

"This is a phenomenon that occurs every day," Erik Tracy, the study's lead author, said in a release. "We are constantly speaking with people we don't know on our phones, and just from this conversation, we might be able to identify personal characteristics about that person, such as their gender, age, race or sexual orientation."

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