Science Daily — An individual's body motion and body type can offer subtle cues about their sexual orientation, but casual observers seem better able to read those cues in gay men than in lesbians, according to a new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
"We already know that men and women are built differently and walk differently from each other and that casual observers use this information as clues in making a range of social judgments," said lead author Kerri Johnson, UCLA assistant professor of communication studies. "Now we've found that casual observers can use gait and body shape to judge whether a stranger is gay or straight with a small but perceptible amount of accuracy."
Johnson and colleagues at New York University and Texas A&M measured the hips, waists and shoulders of eight male and eight female volunteers, half of whom were gay and half straight. The volunteers then walked on a treadmill for two minutes as a three-dimensional motion-capture system similar to those used by the movie industry to create animated figures from living models made measurements of the their motions, allowing researchers to track the precise amount of shoulder swagger and hip sway in their gaits.
We were pretty psyched to hear this news, until we found out there were only eight volunteers of each gender. Not terribly scientific. We imagine that the people at NYU thought it was hysterical if one or more of the gay participants came from Texas. “Ha ha, steers and queers. Like in Full Metal Jacket…”. And the people at A&M were probably flabbergasted that any of the New York participants were straight. Even though this study didn’t reveal much, it’s good to know that maybe—just maybe—people from different parts of this country were able to understand each other a little better. And learn to attune their “gaydar” to knuckle-dragging women and slender dudes that sway when they walk. If for no other reason, check out the link to see their diagram.