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Do You Have ‘Gaydar’? University Study Finds Phenomenon May Be Real

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Same-sex couple John Lewis, left, and Stuart Gaffney celebrate outside of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Feb. 7, 2012 in San Francisco, Calif. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Same-sex couple John Lewis, left, and Stuart Gaffney celebrate outside of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Feb. 7, 2012 in San Francisco, Calif. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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SEATTLE (CBS Seattle) — Is “gaydar” real? One University of Washington study believes so.

According to results published in the online-journal PLoS One, the study found that a majority of people were able to identify people as gay just by looking at their picture.

“Participants were able to judge the sexual orientation of women’s and men’s faces with above-chance accuracy,” the study found.

The study asked 129 college students – 92 of them women — to look at hundreds of Facebook profile photos in a split second to determine if that person was straight or gay. Researchers only used photos without glasses, makeup and hairstyle as to possibly not give away any clues.

The participants were able to tell apart a straight woman from a lesbian 65 percent of the time and 61 percent when the photos were turned upside-down. The number fell when asked to differentiate between straight and gay men, as 57 percent were able to choose correctly and 53 percent when the pictures were turned upside-down.

Joshua Tabak, the lead author of the study, says the study shows determining sexual orientation can be as similar as to determining the color of a person.

“It may be similar to how we don’t have to think about whether someone is a man or a woman or black or white,” Tabak, a psychology graduate student at the University of Washington, told Science Daily. “This information confronts us in everyday life.”

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