How’s your gaydar? What about your straydar?
We’re a judgemental bunch, humans. We make snap decisions based on what people wear, their hair, their smiles (or lack thereof). Their shoes (10-hole Doc Martens do have a certain je ne sais quoi).
I make fairly hasty assessments of people whose butt cheeks I can see poking out through the bottom of their shorts, for example.
There’s a certain ‘Adelaide’ accent that makes me gnash my teeth. Close talkers, mouth breathers, people with oversized pectorals.
We judge, and we’re often wrong. For example, I have an atrocious gaydar. A while ago a mate asked me to set her mate up with a bloke I know. “Oh, dude, he’s gay!” I told her. Wrongly, as it turns out. I had to hastily try to rectify the situation so it wasn’t my fault that the two didn’t find everlasting love.
I’m always stumped by camp blokes who aren’t gay, and there are more than you’d think. Although the campest bloke at uni came out years later.
I can’t pick a gay chick at all – even after 25 years playing soccer – unless it’s glaringly obvious.
So I was interested this morning to read about ‘straydar’. In a fairly decent study, scientists have worked out that women are pretty good at picking cheaters.
Not from the old lipstick on the collar.
Not from the whiff of strange perfume.
Not from furtive phone calls, or any sort of sixth sense.
Straight up, from looking at photos of strangers.
The University of Western Australia researchers got a bunch of pictures of men and women, whose cheating history they knew, and showed them to the opposite sex for three seconds. Just a picture of their face.
And women could pick the strayers and the ‘poachers’ – only getting it wrong 38 per cent of the time. Men, however, got it wrong 77 per cent of the time.
The authors admit the accuracy of the study is “modest” but the journal article says the finding is still significant, and builds on a body of evidence that you can actually judge a book by its cover. Not by its Stryper t-shirt, but by its physiological characteristics.
A little knowledge, though, is a dangerous thing. What if people gain more confidence in their ability to judge people on first glance, based on fledgling science?
Women still got it wrong about four times in 10, men most of the time. We get it wrong, and a false confidence in our ‘intuition’, our ‘gaydar’ or our ‘straydar’ could land us in all sorts of strife.
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