Psychologists have discovered that a woman’s ability to identify gay men is increased when she is ovulating.
The new study by psychologists at the University of Toronto and Tufts University shows that a woman can more accurately identify a man’s sexual orientation when looking at his face when she is closest to her time of peak ovulation.
“This effect is not apparent when a woman is judging another female’s orientation,” said Professor Nicholas Rule of psychology, lead author of the study, published in Psychological Science.
“This suggests that fertility influences a heterosexual woman’s attention to potential mates rather than merely increasing sensitivity to sexual orientation or nonverbal cues more generally.”
In the first of three experiments, 40 undergraduate women judged the sexual orientation of 80 images of men’s faces. Forty of the photos were of self-identified gay males while the other 40 were of straight men.
The men did not differ in emotional expression or attractiveness and the female participants were encouraged to use their intuition in making judgments.
Men’s sexual orientation is relevant to conception
In addition, the women reported the length of time since their last menstrual cycle and its average duration.
The researchers correlated the participants’ accuracy in judging sexual orientation with the point at which the women were in their fertility cycle, and found that the nearer women were to peak ovulation, the more accurate they were at judging each male’s sexual orientation.
The second experiment featured 34 women who viewed a similar series of female faces, 100 of whom were self-identified lesbians while another 100 were straight. The researchers found no relationship between fertility and accurate judgments of the women’s sexual orientation.
“Together, these findings suggest that women’s accuracy may vary across the fertility cycle because men’s sexual orientation is relevant to conception and thus of greater importance as women are nearer to ovulation.”
The researchers did not speculate on how the women were able to identify the men’s sexual orientation.