- So-called "gaydar" may have some scientific basis.
- People see clues in facial features to make snap judgements about sexual orientation.
- "Gaydar" is not infallible with the rate of correct guesses in the high 50 percent range.
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.
"We may be doing this so efficiently that we may not even have to try to make this judgment," Tabak told LiveScience.
Guessing sexual orientation
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-60 percent range, Tabak said.