Can you tell if a woman is a lesbian just by looking at her face?


Whereas previous work has shown that male sexual orientation can be accurately and rapidly perceived from the human face and its individual features, no study has examined the judgment of female sexual orientation. To fill this gap, the current work examined the accuracy, speed, and automaticity of judgments of female sexual orientation from the face and from facial features. Study 1 showed that female sexual orientation could be accurately judged from the face and from just eyes without brows and limited to the outer canthi. Study 2 then examined the speed and efficiency of these judgments, showing that judgments of the faces following very brief, near subliminal (40 ms) exposures were significantly better than chance guessing. Finally, Study 3 tested the automaticity of judgments of female sexual orientation by examining the effects of deliberation on accuracy. Participants who made snap judgments of female sexual orientation were significantly more accurate than participants who made thoughtful and deliberated judgments. These data therefore evidence a robust, reliable, and automatic capacity for extracting information about female sexual orientation from nonverbal cues in the face.

Source: “Female sexual orientation is perceived accurately, rapidly, and automatically from the face and its features” from Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 45, Issue 6, November 2009, Pages 1245-1251

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