A new study has debunked the myth that some people have a so-called ‘gaydar’.
William Cox, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison department of psychology, conducted a study in a bid to prove whether some people really do have an innate ability to detect someone’s sexuality.
Participants in the study were told to look at the social media profiles of several different men, and then asked to decide whether that individual was gay or straight.
While some had interests stereotypically associated with being gay, others had more hobbies that correlated with straight stereotypes.
But what was the result? Well, participants tended to assume that those with interests in things such as theatre were gay, and those with interests in sports were straight – with an accuracy level of around 60 per cent.
Cox explained: “If people have 60 per cent accuracy in identifying who is straight, it means that 40 per cent of the time, straight people are incorrectly categorised.
“In a world where 95 per cent of people are straight, 60 per cent accuracy means that for every 100 people, there will be 38 straight people incorrectly assumed to be gay, but only three gay people correctly categorised.”
Essentially, the study found that the entire myth surrounding people having gaydar is complete rubbish. Rather than an inherent ability to know someone’s sexual preference, it found that most people simply rely on deep-seated stereotypes to make snap judgments on the sexuality of others.
In fact, Cox insisted that the idea of having a ‘gaydar’ is inherently problematic, because relying on out-of-date stereotypes can lead to prejudice.
“First, stereotyping can facilitate prejudice,” Cox explained.
“They can justify discrimination and oppression, and, for members of stereotyped groups, they can even lead to depression and other mental health problems.”
He added: “Encouraging stereotyping under the guise of gaydar contributes –directly or indirectly – to stereotyping’s downstream consequences.”