Original Paper

Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 345-352

First online:

Detection of Sexual Orientation (“Gaydar”) by Homosexual and Heterosexual Women

  • Minna LyonsAffiliated withPsychology Department, Liverpool Hope University Email author 
  • , Aoife LynchAffiliated withPsychology Department, Liverpool Hope University
  • , Gayle BrewerAffiliated withPsychology Department, University of Central Lancashire
  • , Davide BrunoAffiliated withPsychology Department, Liverpool Hope University

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Although there has been considerable research investigating the ability to identify sexual orientation from static images, or “gaydar,” few studies have considered the role of female sexual orientation or sexual interest (for example, sociosexual orientation) in judgment accuracy. In two studies, we investigated the sexuality detection ability, and masculinity and femininity as cues used in judgment. In Study 1, we recruited heterosexual (N = 55) and homosexual (N = 71) women to rate the sexual orientation of homosexual and heterosexual male and female targets (N = 80: 20 heterosexual men, 20 homosexual men, 20 heterosexual women, and 20 homosexual women). We found that detection accuracy was better than chance levels for both male and female targets and that male targets were more likely to be falsely labeled as homosexual than female targets were. Overall, female faces were more accurately identified as heterosexual or homosexual than male faces and homosexual female raters were biased towards labeling targets as homosexual. Sociosexuality did not influence the accuracy with which targets were identified as heterosexual or homosexual. In Study 2, 100 heterosexual and 20 homosexual women rated the stimulus for masculinity and femininity. Heterosexual women were rated as more feminine and less masculine than homosexual women and homosexual men were rated as more feminine and less masculine than heterosexual men. Sexual orientation of the judges did not affect the ratings. The results were discussed with a reference to evolutionary and cultural influences affecting sexual orientation judgment accuracy.


Facial perception Gaydar Sex Sexuality Sexual orientation Sociosexual orientation