By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com December 10 2009 5:20 AM ET
A new study by Tufts University shows that people can identify others'
sexual orientation after looking at them for just seconds.
According to ScienceBlogs.com, researchers Nalini Ambady and Nick Rule used college students in a test to accurately identify gay men based on 90 photos from dating websites. None of the men in the photos — half of whom were seeking male partners, the other half seeking females — had facial hair, jewelry, glasses, or other accessories.
Each photo was shown to 90 student volunteers for either 33 milliseconds, 50 milliseconds, 100 milliseconds, 6.5 seconds, or 10 seconds. With each snapshot, the students were able to identify a subject's sexual orientation with at least 50% accuracy, depending on the amount of time given. The most accurate time sequence was 50 milliseconds, with 62% projecting correctly. However, when students took their own amount of time to weigh the photos, the accuracy rate rose to 70%.
In an adjacent study, the researchers pulled photos from Facebook profiles of 133 men that were posted from friends or family, therefore being of a more neutral nature. In that trial, the accuracy rate was 54%, at 50 millisecond intervals.
The study's authors said the reason people may have keen gaydar is so heterosexual women can find a suitable mate and so that men can easily identify their competition.