Or maybe hairstyles are suggestive of sexual orientation. Wary of these possible criticisms, Rule and Ambady conducted a second experiment that controlled for such extraneous variables as self-presentation and hairstyle.
In this second study, the authors used images from the social networking site Facebook rather than online dating Web sites. This way, the targets hadn't so obviously selected photos of themselves meant to attract prospective sexual partners. In fact, the authors had a rather elaborate selection procedure for choosing the target photos in this follow-up study. They first searched for men who'd indicated in their Facebook profile an interest in other men.
Then, they did a second search to find other Facebook users who had posted photos of these gay men in their own profile. They followed the identical criteria for straight targets. They then photoshopped off the participants' hairstyles, this time truly leaving only the faces as a source of information about sexual orientation.
And even with these more stringent controls, the participants were able to identify the gay faces at levels greater than chance—again even on those trials where the faces were flickered on the screen for a mere 50 milliseconds. Furthermore, in an even more rigorously controlled series of experiments published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , Rule and his colleagues replicated their discovery that people are able to accurately guess male sexual orientation. This time, the researchers demonstrated that perceivers were able to do this even when they were shown only individual features of the target's face.
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For example, when shown only the eye region "without brows and cropped to the outer canthi so that not even "crow's-feet" were visible" , perceivers were amazingly still able to accurately identify a man as being gay. The same happened when shown the mouth region alone.
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Curiously, most of the participants underestimated their ability to identify gay faces from these features alone. That is to say, people seem to have honed and calibrated their gaydar without knowing they've done so. Frankly, these findings are a little puzzling to me. Rule and his co-authors mention a few lackluster evolutionary reasons why it would be biologically adaptive for women to know which men aren't worth the trouble and for men to know who's not really a sexual competitor. But they also acknowledge that it's impossible to know from these findings what exactly it is about these facial features that give gays away.
I like the Urban Dictionary because it captures people's understanding and use of words and phrases independent of their actual meaning; it's therefore as much a gauge of human psychology as it is a compendium of slang. There were several definitions of "gay face," including this derogatory doozy:. Now, that one's rather silly and sensationalized—even politically suspect—and there's certainly no scientific evidence in support of these claims about the "mongoloid" features of homosexual men's faces.
But perhaps there is a kernel of truth to another definition of "gay face" in the Urban Dictionary:. Again, a tad derogatory—but that doesn't mean there isn't some logic there, as well. On the one hand, the "muscular activation hypothesis" seems plausible enough to me. But on the other hand, remember that Rule and his co-authors largely controlled for these superficial giveaways in their stimulus photos.
For example, in the second experiment, participants could still ferret out the gay face when shown the eye region sans eyebrows and cropped to the outer canthi. And I'm not entirely sure how to fashion—let alone scientifically operationalize—a "surprised-looking and predatory" eye expression.
I think I would get a headache if I attempted that. In addition, contrary to this urban definition, there may indeed be subtle, yet presently unknown, differences between gay and straight faces. For example, one of my PhD students, David Harnden-Warwick, has a casual hunch that gay men may have sharper, clearer irises than straight men. If so, this would add to a growing list of physiological and biological markers of sexual orientation.
It was only a few years ago that researchers discovered that, unlike straight men, gay men tend to have hair whorl patterns that run in a counterclockwise direction. Such differences may evade conscious detection while registering at some level in people's social awareness. All we know at the moment is that there's something endemic to our faces in particular, our eyes and mouths that betrays our "hidden" sexual orientation.
At a table in the front, six young women have met up for an after-work drink. None of them are in relationships, they say. No one gets hurt—well, not on the surface. They tell me how, at their school, an adjunct instructor in philosophy, Kerry Cronin, teaches a freshman class in which an optional assignment is going out on an actual date.
Oh my God, he just texted me! Do you think you would like to get choke-fucked, tied up, slapped, throat-fucked and cummed on? I think we could have a wild afternoon together but I am happy just to share brunch with you. On another busy night at the same bar, at the same table in the front, three good-looking guys are having beers.
They are John, Nick, and Brian, 26, 25, and 25; John is the marketing executive mentioned above, Nick works in the fitness industry, and Brian is an educator. When asked about their experience with dating apps, their assessment is quite different from the interns from Boston College. Nick, with his lumbersexual beard and hipster clothes, as if plucked from the wardrobe closet of Girls, is, physically speaking, a modern male ideal. She found out by looking at my phone—rookie mistake, not deleting everything.
He holds up his phone, with its cracked screen, to show a Tinder conversation between him and a young woman who provided her number after he offered a series of emojis, including the ones for pizza and beer. Girls do the same, but they get judged.
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I have a good time. Men in the age of dating apps can be very cavalier, women say. One would think that having access to these nifty machines their phones that can summon up an abundance of no-strings-attached sex would make them feel happy, even grateful, and so inspired to be polite. But, based on interviews with more than 50 young women in New York, Indiana, and Delaware, aged 19 to 29, the opposite seems to be the case. Is it possible that now the potentially de-stabilizing trend women are having to contend with is the lack of respect they encounter from the men with whom they have sex?
Could the ready availability of sex provided by dating apps actually be making men respect women less?
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There are many evolved men, but there may be something going on in hookup culture now that is making some more resistant to evolving. Such a problem has the disrespectful behavior of men online become that there has been a wave of dating apps launched by women in response to it. There is Bumble, created by Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe, who sued the company after she was allegedly sexually harassed by C.
Justin Mateen. Bring all of this up to young men, however, and they scoff. How are you gonna feel romantic about a girl like that? Oh, and by the way? I met you on Tinder. Even the emphasis on looks inherent in a dating game based on swiping on photos is something men complain women are just as guilty of buying into. Men talk about the nudes they receive from women. They show off the nudes. And what about unsolicited dick pics? No woman I talked to said she had ever asked for one.
On a rainy morning at the University of Delaware, the young women who live in an off-campus house are gathering on their front porch for coffee. Rebecca, the blonde with the canny eyes, also mentioned above, hooked up with someone, too. As they talk, most are on their phones.
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Some are checking Tinder. I tell them how I heard from guys that they swipe right on every picture in order to increase their chances of matching. The rain comes down harder, and they move inside to the living room, which has a couch, a coffee table, and tie-dyed tapestries everywhere.