A recent study by two psychologists concludes that “gaydar” – the ability to gauge sexual orientation simply by looking at someone – is real. Participants, who were shown photographs of men’s and women’s faces for 50 milliseconds, demonstrated “above-chance gaydar accuracy even when the faces were presented upside down. Accuracy increased, however, when the faces were presented right side up.” Skeptical, I did some digging and came across several similar studies, including:
Afrodar. As the antebellum and Jim Crow South discovered, this is much easier to determine in theory than in reality . . . although, interestingly, the darker the skin color, the more likely respondents were to classify the person as Black. Overall, however, a greater percentage of participants correctly identified Norwegians.
Jewdar. Participants demonstrated a complete inability to distinguish Israelis from Arabs, with one exception: if the head had a yarmulke, 100% identified him as a Jew.
Gendar. Fully two-thirds of respondents (67%) correctly identified the gender, a figure that increased to 92% when photographs of full-frontal nudity were shown. The margin of error was +/- 3%.
WASPdar. The study was aborted when the photographers were denied access to the country club.
Catholodar. 72% of participants correctly identified people emerging from St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Ash Wednesday as Catholics. 28% thought they were Hindus.
Fidar. The ability to identify dogs turns out to be breed-dependent. While English Toy Terriers were often misidentified as rodents, all but one respondent recognized the Great Dane as a dog. The lone incorrect answer was “Hamlet.”