NCBI ROFL: Gaydar doesn't work as well on upside-down faces.

By ncbi rofl | June 8, 2012 7:00 pm

The Roles of Featural and Configural Face Processing in Snap Judgments of Sexual Orientation

“Research has shown that people are able to judge sexual orientation from faces with above-chance accuracy, but little is known about how these judgments are formed. Here, we investigated the importance of well-established face processing mechanisms in such judgments: featural processing (e.g., an eye) and configural processing (e.g., spatial distance between eyes). Participants judged sexual orientation from faces presented for 50 milliseconds either upright, which recruits both configural and featural processing, or upside-down, when configural processing is strongly impaired and featural processing remains relatively intact. Although participants judged women’s and men’s sexual orientation with above-chance accuracy for upright faces and for upside-down faces, accuracy for upside-down faces was significantly reduced. The reduced judgment accuracy for upside-down faces indicates that configural face processing significantly contributes to accurate snap judgments of sexual orientation.”

Bonus figure from the full text:

Figure 1. Sample stimuli from the sexual orientation detection task.

(a) Example female face and backward mask (Experiments 1 and 2) and example male face and backward mask (Experiment 1); (b) lightened male face and backward mask (upside-down; Experiment 2).

Photo: flickr/wsh1266

Related content:
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Women’s gaydar improves during ovulation.
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Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Disgusting smells cause decreased liking of gay men.

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  • http://twitter.com/joshuatabak Joshua Tabak

    See also: The Science of ‘Gaydar’ (by Joshua A. Tabak & Vivian Zayas) http://nyti.ms/N4qprz

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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl

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