People can judge with surprising accuracy whether someone is gay or straight — even when they're looking at a black-and-white photograph, cropped of hair and identifying marks, and presented upside down. The findings from a University of Washington study suggest people use a combination of clues from individual facial features and from the way those features fit together to make snap judgments about sexual orientation , said researcher Joshua Tabak, a graduate student in psychology. Tabak's is not the first study to find that people can correctly guess a person's sexual orientation from a photograph more often than just by chance. This "gaydar" isn't infallible: The rate of correct guesses is usually in the high 50 percent to mid percent range, Tabak said. Still, that's pretty impressive, he said, given that researchers use cropped faces without hair, jewelry or other possible hints about sexual orientation. What earlier studies had not done was to tease out how people make these snap sexuality judgments.
Facial Hair and Beard Styles, Gallery 1
Pictures of Facial Hair and Beard Styles
Although I've always wanted this particular superhuman power, I've never been very good at detecting other men's sexual orientation. Findings from a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology , however, suggest I may be underestimating my gaydar abilities. The January study investigated people's ability to identify homosexual men from pictures of their faces alone. In an initial experiment, researchers Nicholas Rule and Nalini Ambady from Tufts University perused online dating sites and carefully selected 45 straight male faces and 45 gay male faces. All of these photos were matched for orientation only faces shown looking forward were used and facial alterations none of the images contained jewelry, glasses or facial hair. To control for context, the faces were also cut and pasted onto a white background for the study. These 90 faces were then shown to 90 participants in random order, who were asked simply to judge the target's "probable sexual orientation" gay or straight by pressing a button.
Young Girls Getting Facials, Blowouts, Manicures
Photo Credit: Getty Images. Fellas, we know that we can be a bit judgmental, but first impressions are the most lasting. That's why we feel it is our obligation to point out when the hem length of your suit is all wrong or to run in the opposite direction when we detect Merrells on your feet. And whether you realize it or not, your facial hair also says a lot about you. The editors here at HuffPost Style have a strong attraction to scruffy-faced guys read: Ryan Gosling because they appear to be the most easygoing and laid-back.
The machine intelligence tested in the research, which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and first reported in the Economist , was based on a sample of more than 35, facial images that men and women publicly posted on a US dating website. The data also identified certain trends, including that gay men had narrower jaws, longer noses and larger foreheads than straight men, and that gay women had larger jaws and smaller foreheads compared to straight women. While the findings have clear limits when it comes to gender and sexuality — people of color were not included in the study, and there was no consideration of transgender or bisexual people — the implications for artificial intelligence AI are vast and alarming. More frighteningly, governments that continue to prosecute LGBT people could hypothetically use the technology to out and target populations.