Gaydar was supposedly “invented” in the 80s, and it’s been considered a real thing for judging a person’s perceived sexuality, among certain folks in and out of the LGBT universe. And it’s been unfairly used to stereotype LGB people by straights and gays.
Researchers from the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have now tried to determine once and for all if gaydar actually exists. Scientist William Cox wrote,
“In some recent work, my colleagues and I have been able to demonstrate how the perpetuation of the gaydar myth has unintended negative consequences. Participants then judged whether men were gay or straight based on information ostensibly taken from social media profiles.
Some of the men had interests (or ‘likes’) that related to gay stereotypes, like fashion, shopping or theatre. Others had interests related to straight stereotypes, like sports, hunting or cars, or “neutral” interests unrelated to stereotypes, like reading or movies.
This design allowed us to assess how often people jumped to the conclusion that men were gay based on stereotypically gay interests.
Those who were told gaydar is real stereotyped much more than the control group, and participants stereotyped much less when they had been told that gaydar is just another term for stereotyping.”
These patterns provided strong support for the idea that belief in gaydar encourages stereotyping by simply disguising it under a different label.
In these studies, researchers presented pictures, sound clips and videos of real gay and straight people to the participants, who then categorised them as gay or straight.“
William explained that half of the people in the pictures and clip were gay, whereas the other half were straight. Around 60% of the answers were accurate, leading researchers to claim it
“as evidence that gaydar exists.”
OK, stay with me here, we’re getting to the point…
William says that using math the data actually suggests that most of the time, gaydar will be “highly INACCURATE”. There’s a problem in the basic premise of these studies: Namely, having a pool of people in which 50 percent of the targets are gay.
In the real world, only around 3 to 8 percent of adults identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. That 60 percent accuracy means for the straight targets in these studies. If people have 60 percent accuracy in identifying who is straight, it means that 40 percent of the time, straight people are incorrectly categorised.
“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 categorised.
Therefore, the 60 percent accuracy in the lab studies translates to 93 percent inaccuracy for identifying who is gay in the real world (38 / [38 + 3] = 92.7 percent).
Even when people seem gay – and set off all the alarms on your gaydar – it’s far more likely that they’re straight. More straight people will seem to be gay than there are actual gay people in total.”
Got it? In a word, gaydar isn’t a thing that is accurate. Stereotyping, no matter what you call it, should be something we left in the 20th century –in theory anyway. In practice, we DO still use our gaydar, even if it’s only for cruising.
(via Gay Times)