'Gaydar' Is Not Real So Stop Trying to Use It

women whispering about men"My gaydar totally went off." You've heard someone say this before -- or maybe you've said/thought it yourself. At the time, you might have thought you successfully uncovered someone's sexual identity. Sorry, Sherlock. Gaydar is just stereotyping. Scientists are throwing some serious shade on the supposed instinct/feeling that someone is gay.

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Back in 2008, one study seemed to give the myth some cred. When study participants looked at pics of gay and straight people, many were able to accurately guess which way they swung.

But a new study published in the Journal of Sex Research found that experiment wasn't as objective as it could have been. For instance, the pictures of gay men and lesbians were higher quality than those who were heterosexual.

Which, honestly, seems like a big thing for researchers at the time not to notice. Wouldn't they want all the pictures to be exactly the same so there was no wiggle room to interpret their results?

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When researchers DID make sure all the pics were the same quality, participants were at a loss for what images showed gay people and which showed straight.

So, you know, whoops.

In five new experiments, scientists from the University of Wisconsin–Madison pretty much debunked everything you think you know about gaydar.

No, you can't tell if someone is gay just by looking at their face. But we humans are so susceptible. When scientists lied and told one group of participants that gaydar really existed and they had it, the people "used it" more.

Gaydar is not only NOT real, but it's NOT a good thing. When you stereotype someone, researchers point out, you're narrowing your view about them, promoting prejudice, and even planting seeds of aggression.

Does it really matter what someone's sexual orientation is? No. Gossip about something else instead, and flip your imaginary "gaydar" switch off for good.

 

Image © shironosov/iStock

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