Gay? Straight? It’s All in the Eyes

A new study suggests that eyes may be the window to sexual orientation

Photo by Think Stock

Is it the way he walks? The way she talks? Probably not. But researchers at Cornell University are saying that one way to study sexual orientation is in the eyes. The study, published in Live Science, suggests that pupil dilation can indicate someone’s level of arousal depending on which gender they’re eyeing up.

The study finds that gay men who are attracted to other men experience a dilation of pupils when looking at erotic images of the same sex (while straight men responded to women and bisexuals responded to both). The same goes for women, though these results were a bit more complex as straight women in the study tended to dilate to images of both sexes even when they felt feelings of arousal for men.

“So if a man says he’s straight, his eyes are dilating towards women,” the lead researcher Ritch Savin-Williams tells Live Science. “And the opposite with gay men, their eyes are dilating to men.”

The researchers also believe this is an especially accurate testing method compared to monitoring someone’s, well, nether regions, as less people are willing to become subjects if it means having probes and other devices attached below the belt. But studying the eyes, says the researchers, opens up a whole new world to the very old question of whether “gaydar” even exists.

Have we just been looking in the wrong place for too long?