Our gaydars work better on women

John von Radowitz

MOST people possess an automatic 'gaydar' that assesses sexual orientation in less than a blink of an eye, research has shown.

In tests, scientists found that gaydar works on an unconscious level and is more accurate when directed at women.

Volunteers asked to distinguish between photos of 'straight' and 'gay' faces were able to do so in just 50 milliseconds -- a third of the time of an eyeblink.


Their accuracy remained greater than chance even when the photos were upside down.

For women's faces, parti-cipants were 65pc accurate in guessing sexual orientation when the photos were briefly flashed on a computer screen.

Differentiating between gay and straight men turned out to be harder. In this case, gaydar got the answer right only 57pc of the time.

The research, published in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE, involved 129 college students.

They were each shown 96 photos of young men and women who identified themselves as gay or straight.

US psychologist Joshua Tabak led the study at the University of Washington.

"It may be similar to how we don't have to think about whether someone is a man or a woman or black or white. This information confronts us in everyday life," he we explained.

Only photos of people without 'give away' clues such as facial hair, make-up or piercings were used in the experiment.

The photos were also cropped so that only faces, not hairstyles, were visible.