Found in Translation: Cross-Cultural Consensus in the Accurate Categorization of Male Sexual Orientation.

Published: August 1, 2011


Across cultures, people converge in some behaviors and diverge in others. As little is known about the accuracy of judgments across cultures outside of the domain of emotion recognition, the present study investigated the influence of culture in another area: the social categorization of men’s sexual orientations. Participants from nations varying in their acceptance of homosexuality (United States, Japan, and Spain) categorized the faces of men from all three cultures significantly better than chance guessing. Moreover, categorizations of individual faces were significantly correlated among the three groups of perceivers. Americans were significantly faster and more accurate than the Japanese and Spanish perceivers. Categorization strategies (i.e., response bias) also varied such that perceivers from cultures less accepting of homosexuality were more likely to categorize targets as straight. Male sexual orientation therefore appears to be legible across cultures.

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