Department of Educational Psychology


Date of this Version



Published in The Journal of Sex Research, 2017, 5 pp. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2017.1278570


Copyright © 2017 The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality; published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis. Used by permission.


In recent years, several empirical studies have claimed to provide evidence in support of the popular folk notion that people possess “gaydar” that enables them to accurately identify who is gay or lesbian (Rule, Johnson, & Freeman, 2016). This conclusion is limited to artificial lab settings, however, and when translated to real-world settings this work itself provides evidence that people’s judgments about who is gay/lesbian are not pragmatically accurate. We also briefly review evidence related to the consequences of perpetuating the idea of gaydar (i.e., “the gaydar myth”). Although past claims about accurate orientation perception are misleading, the work that gave rise to those claims can nevertheless inform the literature in meaningful ways. We offer some recommendations for how the evidence in past “gaydar” research can be reappraised to inform our understanding of social perception and group similarities/differences.