Guessing Sexual Orientation: Heterosexuals' Ability to Accurately Estimate their "Gaydar"

  • Connie J. Kendig
  • Nicole Maresca


We investigated whether heterosexuals are more accurate than they believe in their ability to guess sexual orientation and whether considering sexual orientation will influence heterosexuals' feelings of closeness toward pictured individuals. We found that a significant number of participants (76.7%, p<.002) overestimated their ability to guess sexual orientation and overall, participants rated heterosexuals higher on the closeness scale than homosexuals (p<.001). Thirty male and female, Caucasian, heterosexual participants between the ages of 25 and 35 were asked to guess the sexual orientation of twenty pictured individuals and rate each picture on a closeness scale. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions (Group A = closeness scale first; Group B = closeness scale second). The researchers suggest additional study to determine the underlying processes involved in the findings.


Haddock, G., Zanna, M.P., & Esses, V.M. (1993). Assessing the structure of prejudicial attitudes: the case of attitudes toward homosexuals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65 (6), 1105-1118.

Jussim, L., Manis, M., Nelson, T.E. & Soffin, S. (1995) Prejudice, stereotypes, and labeling effects: sources of bias in person perception. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68(2), 228-246.

McKinney, M.K., & Saucier, D.A. (2003, May). Sex differences in knowledge of stereotypes about gay men and lesbians. Poster presented at the annual Psi Chi meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL.

Steffens, M.C., & Buchner, A. (2003). Implicit Association Test: Separating transsituationally stable and variable components of attitudes toward gay men. Experimental Psychology, 50(1), 33-48.