Is Gaydar Real?

There could be truth to the urban legend after all

Gay or straight? (courtesy of University of Washington)

You know that feeling you get when you meet someone and pretty much know without a doubt that he or she is batting for the lavender team? Scientists at the University of Washington think they may have found proof that gaydar really does exist – at least among college students.

A new study suggests that first impressions really do play a big part in the way people are perceived romantically and by potential employers. The study, published in PLoS One, asked students at the university to take a look at pictures of men and woman from all walks of life – and to guess his or her sexuality simply by looking at the photos for a few seconds.

The results?

In two-thirds of the cases, most were able to tell if a woman was gay or straight. And almost 60 percent could do the same for men, though straight guys were more often mistaken for gay. Overall, the study says, the group had a harder time assessing the men (hello, bisexuals?).

And if you think hairstyles gave them away, think again. There were no mullets or faux hawks visible – each photo cropped out everything but the face.

But since the study didn’t take into account older folks or even people from different world cultures making their guesses, it doesn’t necessarily prove that gaydar exists for everyone. There are “always a small number of people with no ability to distinguish gay and strajght faces,” admits head author Joshua Tabak, a psych student at the university.

What do you think: Is Gaydar fact or fiction?