Is Gaydar Real? A New Study Uncovers The Truth
Many of us are familiar with the concept of "gaydar," an unspoken intuition or "sixth sense" that helps one recognize the sexuality of another person.
At best, gaydar is a silly, harmless joke; an instinct you rely upon before deciding whether or not to flirt with a stranger. At worst, gaydar is problematic, and helps to perpetuate stereotypes.
But is it real?
Researchers from the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted a new study to find out.
Assistant scientist William Cox writes:
“In some recent work, my colleagues and I have been able to demonstrate how the perpetuation of the gaydar myth has unintended negative consequences.”
Researchers told one group of participants that gaydar was real. They told another group that it was a term for stereotyping. And to a third group, they mentioned nothing.
“Participants then judged whether men were gay or straight based on information ostensibly taken from social media profiles.
“Some of the men had interests (or “likes”) that related to gay stereotypes, like fashion, shopping or theater. Others had interests related to straight stereotypes, like sports, hunting or cars, or “neutral” interests unrelated to stereotypes, like reading or movies.
“This design allowed us to assess how often people jumped to the conclusion that men were gay based on stereotypically gay interests.
“Those who were told gaydar is real stereotyped much more than the control group, and participants stereotyped much less when they had been told that gaydar is just another term for stereotyping.”
“These patterns provided strong support for the idea that belief in gaydar encourages stereotyping by simply disguising it under a different label.”
Contradicting previous studies that suggested gaydar is real, William responded:
“There’s a problem in the basic premise of these studies: Namely, having a pool of people in which 50 percent of the targets are gay.
“In the real world, only around 3 to 8 percent of adults identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual.
“Think about what the 60 percent accuracy means for the straight targets in these studies. If people have 60 percent accuracy in identifying who is straight, it means that 40 percent of the time, straight people are incorrectly categorized."
“Even when people seem gay – and set off all the alarms on your gaydar – it’s far more likely that they’re straight. More straight people will seem to be gay than there are actual gay people in total.”
Thoughts on the findings?
H/T: Gay Times