John M. Becker

Do Gay Men, Straight Men Have Different Facial Shapes?

Filed By John M. Becker | November 10, 2013 12:15 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: face shapes, femininity, gay stereotypes, gender binary, masculinity, sexual orientation, stereotypes

A new study from the Czech Republic suggests that the facial shapes of gay and straight men are distinguishably different. It also found that, contrary to cultural gay stereotypes, gay men's faces are perceived as more masculine than their straight counterparts.

The Independent reports:

A study conducted by researchers from the Center for Theoretical Study at Charles University in Prague and The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic examined the possible differences in facial shape between homosexual and heterosexual individuals and found "significant" shape differences in faces of heterosexual and homosexual men.

Their results found that homosexual men were rated as more stereotypically 'masculine' than heterosexual men, which they said undermined stereotypical notions of gay men as more feminine looking.

In the first part of their study, researchers looked at the morphological differences between gay and straight men...

Eighty pictures were taken of the men in the first study using a Canon camera. Over 11,000 coordinates were established to allow for comparison using geometric morphometrics.

Homosexual men showed relatively wider and shorter faces, smaller and shorter noses, and rather massive and more rounded jaws, "resulting in a mosaic of both feminine and masculine features", the authors of the study found.

Here's the Huffington Post on the second part of the study:

The second study consisted of 33 gay and 33 straight men in their early 20s. Forty female and 40 male students from Charles University were asked to rate the sexual orientation of the 66 participants on a scale of one to seven, with one indicating a very straight look and seven indicating a very gay look. Raters were also asked to rank masculinity and femininity from one to seven, with one indicting very masculine and seven indicating very feminine.

The face shapes of gay men were rated as more masculine than those of straight men. In addition, raters were not able to correctly determine sexual orientation from the pictures. "This shows that sexual orientation judgment based on stereotyped gender specific traits leads to frequent misjudgment," the authors wrote.

Jarka Valentova, who led the research team, was quick to stress that the differences their study suggests in the facial shapes of gay and straight men "does not mean that any of the groups is easily recognizable on the street." She also added that larger studies would need to be conducted in different populations and with larger sample sizes in order to confirm the findings.

Nonetheless, the authors' underlying conclusion is an important one: "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."

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