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Study: Gay & Straight Men Have Different Facial Shapes

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Friday Nov 8, 2013

A new study that analyzed the differences in facial structures between gay and straight men found "significant morphological differences," the British newspaper the Independent reports.

Researchers from the Center for Theoretical Study at Charles University in Prague and the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic conducted the study and looked at the differences in facial shape between gay and straight men, finding that gay men were rated more stereotypically "masculine" than straight men. Researchers said these results go against the stereotypical thought that gay men feminine.

After looking at the morphological (morphology is a branch of biology that studies the form and structure of organisms and their specific structural features) differences between gay and straight men, the research team, headed by Jarka Valentova, examined if a person's sexual orientation can be correctly determined by looking at his face.

Researchers looked at 50 gay and 40 straight white Czech men for the first part of the study and 33 gay men and 33 straight men in their early 20s for the second part of the study. The team took 80 pictures of the men for the first part of the study and more than 11,000 coordinates were established in order to compare the differences between the two groups of men.

The team then gathered 40 female and 40 male students from Charles University and asked them to rate the sexual orientation of the 66 participants on masculinity or femininity on a scale from one to seven, with one being very masculine and seven very feminine. The raters said gay men's faces were more masculine and they could not correctly pick out the participants' sexual identity simply by looking at their faces.

Researchers say this proves "sexual orientation judgment based on stereotyped gender specific traits leads to frequent misjudgment."

"It's necessary to point out to possible misunderstandings of our results," Valentova told the Huffington Post. "The fact that we have found some significant morphological differences between homosexual and heterosexual men does not mean that any of the groups is easily recognizable on the street (and our Study 2 actually shows that it's not that easy to guess anyone's sexual orientation without knowing it), or that anything like that should be done (like pointing on people with our illustrations and guessing who is who)."

She added the study needs to be redone with different ethnic groups, however.

"Our results showed that differences in facial morphology of homosexual and heterosexual men do not simply mirror variation in femininity, and the stereotypic association of feminine looking men as homosexual may confound judgments of sexual orientation," Valentova said.


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