Gay Or Straight? Body Language Reveals Sexual Orientation
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. Good data, biased interpretation. As probably the researchers have been straight, they missed the term “gay-dar” used for this sensing ability within the community. As such, this study shows much less about allegedly treacherous body language but about perception stereotypes: “gender-atypical combinations were perceived generally to be homosexual”, as the authors put it. Or more frankly: what seems queer is classified as queer. What is rendering itself to interpretation here is hence less the body type and motion, but the old odd social role expectancies ventilated and shaped by tradition and visual media more, than real everyday triage experience. That is why casual undergraduate students are more diligent in performing this kind of apprehensional task.
Volunteers were filmed and analyzed as they walked on a treadmill for two minutes. Researchers noted that gay subjects tended to have more gender-incongruent body types than their straight counterparts (hourglass figures for men, tubular bodies for women) and body motions (hip-swaying for men, shoulder-swaggering for women) than their straight counterparts. (Credit: Image provided courtesy of APA)
“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.
Based on these measurements, the researchers determined that the gay subjects tended to have more gender-incongruent body types than their straight counterparts (hourglass figures for men, tubular bodies for women) and body motions (hip-swaying for men, shoulder-swaggering for women) than their straight counterparts.
In addition, 112 undergraduate observers were shown videos of the backsides of the volunteers as they walked at various speeds on the treadmill. The observers were able to determine the volunteers’ sexual orientation with an overall rate of accuracy that exceeded chance, even though they could not see the volunteers’ faces or the details of their clothing. Interestingly, the casual observers were much more accurate in judging the orientation of males than females; they correctly categorized the sexual orientation of men with more than 60 percent accuracy, but their categorization of women did not exceeded chance.
The findings build on recent research that shows that casual observers can often correctly identify sexual orientation with very limited information. A 1999 Harvard study, for example, found that just by looking at the photographs of seated strangers, college undergraduates were able to judge sexual orientation accurately 55 percent of the time.
“Studies like ours are raising questions about the value of the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy,” Johnson said. “If casual observers can determine sexual orientation with minimal information, then the value in concealing this information certainly appears questionable. Given that we all appear to be able to deduce this information to some degree with just a glance, more comprehensive policies may be required to protect gays against discrimination based on their sexual orientation.”
The findings also are part of mounting evidence suggesting that sexual orientation may actually be what social scientists call a “master status category,” or a defining characteristic that observers cannot help but notice and which has been scientifically shown to color all subsequent social dealings with others.
“Once you know a person’s sexual orientation, the fact has consequences for all subsequent interactions, and our findings suggest that this category of information can be deduced from subtle clues in body movement,” Johnson said.
Video available at: http://www.apa.org/journals/supplemental/psp_93_3_321/Supplement1.mov
J Pers Soc Psychol. 2007 Sep;93(3):321-34.
Swagger, sway, and sexuality: Judging sexual orientation from body motion and morphology.
Department of Psychology, New York University, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
People can accurately judge the sexual orientation of others, but the cues they use have remained elusive. In 3 studies, the authors examined how body shape and motion affect perceived sexual orientation. In 2 studies, participants judged the sexual orientation of computer-generated animations in which body shape and motion were manipulated. Gender-typical combinations (e.g., tubular body moving with shoulder swagger or hourglass body moving with hip sway) were perceived generally to be heterosexual; . These effects were stronger for male targets. Body shape affected perceived sexual orientation of women, but motion affected perceived sexual orientation of both men and women. Study 3 replicated and extended these findings. Participants judged dynamic outlines of real people (men and women, both gay and straight) in which body shape and motion were measured. Again, gender-atypical body motion affected perceived sexual orientation and, importantly, affected accuracy as well. (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved
see also the following articles. they read though as the quoted studies were undertaken by straight guys of rather psychoanalytical conceptional background LOL
hegemonic masculinity ideology…. what a term. see what happens when one first applies mathematical tools and then tries to fit the queer results with any denominator that might fit. ;)
at least one aspect did escape the researcher’s notice: body image ideal might be as well shaped by the ideal, a gay guy might fancy as his desired sex partner.
1: J Homosex. 2001;42(1):1-28.Links
Marginalization among the marginalized: gay men’s anti-effeminacy attitudes.
Counseling Center, University of Illinois at Chicago, 60607-7164, USA. Kittiwut@uic.edu
Contemporary research has shown that a significant portion of gay men have traits, interests, occupations, and behaviors that are consistent with the stereotype of gay men as effeminate, androgynous, or unmasculine. A great number of gay men exhibit gender nonconformity during childhood; most, however, “defeminize” during adolescence, possibly in response to stigmatization and society’s gender-role prescription. Only a relatively small percentage of gay men continue to be gender-nonconforming in their adulthood, often at a price, as they also tend to have lower psychological well-being. Although gay culture historically appreciated camp and drag, which subvert the gender-based power hierarchy and celebrate gender nonconformity, anti-effeminacy prejudice is widespread among gay men. Ironically, gender-nonconforming gay men may suffer from discrimination not only from society at large, but from other gay men, who are most likely to have experienced stigmatization and may have been effeminate earlier in their lives. Drawing from anecdotes and findings from various sources, this article suggests that beyond many gay men’s erotic preference for masculinity lies contempt and hostility toward effeminacy and effeminate men on sociopolitical and personal levels. Two correlates of gay men’s anti-effeminacy attitudes are proposed: (a) hegemonic masculinity ideology, or the degree to which one subscribes to the value system in which masculinity is an asset, and men and masculinity are considered superior to women and femininity; and (b) masculinity consciousness, or the saliency of masculinity in one’s self-monitoring, public self-consciousness, and self-concept. These two variables are hypothesized to interact with gay men’s self-perceived masculinity-femininity and their history of defeminization in predicting attitudes toward effeminacy. Research is underway to measure levels of anti-effeminacy attitudes and explore hypothesized correlates.
PMID: 11991561 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Body image concerns of gay men: the roles of minority stress and conformity to masculine norms.
Kimmel SB, Mahalik JR.
Mental Health Services, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. email@example.com
The authors hypothesized that gay men’s experiences of minority stress and their conformity to masculine norms would be associated with increased body image dissatisfaction and masculine body ideal distress. For this cross-sectional study, 357 gay males completed a Web-based survey, and 2 multiple regression analyses indicated that minority stress factors ( i.e., internalized homophobia, expected stigma for being gay, and experiences of physical attack) were associated with body image dissatisfaction and masculine body ideal distress, accounting for 5% and 13% of the variance, respectively. Gay men’s conformity to masculine norms was not associated with body image dissatisfaction but did uniquely explain an additional 3% of variance in masculine body ideal distress scores. The utility of the minority stress model, how traditional masculinity may contribute to gender-related presenting concerns, suggestions for developing and evaluating remedial and preventive interventions, limitations, and future research issues are discussed.
PMID: 16392992 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
1: J Homosex. 2004;47(3-4):45-58.Links
Body image, eating disorders, and the drive for muscularity in gay and heterosexual men: the influence of media images.
Duggan SJ, McCreary DR.
OISE/University of Toronto, 252 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1V6, Canada. firstname.lastname@example.org
This Internet research project examined the relationship between consumption of muscle and fitness magazines and/or various indices of pornography and body satisfaction in gay and heterosexual men. Participants (N = 101) were asked to complete body satisfaction questionnaires that addressed maladaptive eating attitudes, the drive for muscularity, and social physique anxiety. Participants also completed scales measuring self-esteem, depression, and socially desirable responding. Finally, respondents were asked about their consumption of muscle and fitness magazines and pornography. Results indicated that viewing and purchasing of muscle and fitness magazines correlated positively with levels of body dissatisfaction for both gay and heterosexual men. Pornography exposure was positively correlated with social physique anxiety for gay men. The limitations of this study and directions for future research are outlined.
PMID: 15451703 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] �