Think you have gaydar? Well, a new study claims it’s debunked the myth.
William Cox, a researcher at University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Psychology, headed a study that aimed to figure out if some people really are able to innately detect another’s sexuality.
Participants were instructed to look at the social media profiles of different men and then asked to determine whether they were gay or straight. Some of the men had interests stereotypically associated with the gay community, while others had interests that matched up with straight stereotypes.
Interestingly, there were two groups of participants:
These patterns provided strong support for the idea that belief in gaydar encourages stereotyping by simply disguising it under a different label.
In the end, straight men were miscategorized as gay about 40 percent of the time.
“In a world where 95 percent of people are straight, 60 percent accuracy means that for every 100 people, there will be 38 straight people incorrectly assumed to be gay, but only three gay people correctly categorized,” says Cox.
Basically, the study determined that gaydar is not a naturally occurring phenomenon, but rather that many people base their conclusions about someone’s sexuality on prevailing stereotypes.
“Encouraging stereotyping under the guise of gaydar contributes – directly or indirectly – to stereotyping’s downstream consequences,” says Cox, explaining these stereotypes can “lead to depression and other mental health problems” because they “can facilitate prejudice”.