Would this invention work as a gay-o-meter?

I am totally serious about this so I hope I don’t offend anyone. One problem with research into homosexuality is that there is no objective standard of who is or isn’t homosexual. It is all self-reported and often unreliable. There also is always the possibility that someone is lies somewhere on the continuem of the heterosexual - homosexual line other than at the extremes.

I consider myself 100% heterosexual. I have noticed that anytime I open a magazine, yearbook, or any other media with print images of several people, my eyes instantly move to the most attractive female (to me) on the page. This is an unconscience process. I have no idea how I even scan everyone that fast. Even if all of the females are fairly unattractive, I will still zero in on the one that is the least unattractive. The only way that I would ever look at a male first is if there is something very strange or distinctive about him versus everyone else (e.g. wearing a superman costume or being severly disfigured).

What I propose is fairly simple. Build a computer program that flashes images of both males and females on the same screen and then track where the subjects eyes lock first. The most basic test would have both men and women in similar sex-appropriate clothing who are subjectively rated to be about the same level of attractivness. I believe you could devise more complicated tests mixing sexes of different levels of attractiveness to test for bisexuality etc.

I think it is a fairly simple and sound idea. What do you think? Is there anything that you would do to modify it or tests that you would add?

On the other hand, someone has probably built it for all I know and it failed miserably.

Or you could do what they’ve already done, which is to strap monitoring devices to the person’s penis and monitor blood flow and tumescence while the subject is viewing different pictures.

While your way is somewhat more subtle than the first, it’s still not all that practical in day to day life. While you might wonder if your co-worker or that cute guy you saw walking his dog is gay, saying, “Hey, Joe, come over here and look at these pictures while I watch your eyes.” still isn’t always feasable.

It may very well work for males, but some study or other showed that the same “pleasure” receptacles that light up when men look at a pretty woman also light up in heterosexual women when they look at a pretty woman. Combine that with the common wisdom notion that women more often find other women pretty and that they are less visually-oriented when it comes to sexual attraction and I would imagine you wouldn’t have a very good device for measuring female orientation. (I’m not saying it wouldn’t work statistically, since obviously on average heterosexual woman find males better looking than lesbians do, I’m just saying it might not be a rock solid indicator.)

However, it couldn’t be any worse for either gender than attempting to measure direct sexual response (erection and blood flow, respectively.) after engaging them in a situation designed to perhaps stimulate them. While often indicative of sexual response, other situations such as aggression and excitement can also tip the scales of the meters.

Thanks, that is a little encouraging anyway. I always thought the gentital blood-flow measurement was way to rudimentary. If I got a hard-on or even a semi-hard-on every time that I saw an attractive female, well, lets just say that I would be a little embarrassed and sore after I have walked around downtown Boston for a few hours.

What I am imagining using is the same equipment that allows quarapalegics to use a computer by signaling letters with their eyes, not a human measurement and especially not a self-reported measurement.

Uh… so your eyes always go to the most attractive woman on the page? Sure she isn’t just the most attractive to you?

Sorry, but I have to concur with the above post: I am a straight female, but my eyes always go to women rather than men. Put alone in a room with a beautiful woman, though, I would have no idea what to do, never mind no motivation to do it (unless there was also, say, a manicure kit in the room, then we could do each others’ nails).

I did say that it was the most attractive “to me”. Anyway, I would be happy if it worked for either sex. That would be a major breakthrough in research or at least a large step.

I wonder if there is some unnoticeble way to track where guys are looking on-screen in a movie theater. It would be a really easy way to check the percentage of gay/bi men in the audience, and also get an accurate estimate of the number of men who are attracted to men in the general population. If the guy is looking primarily at the man in a kissing scene, or nude scene, chances are he’s gay.

That is exactly what I am trying to get at. Obviously, it couldn’t be done in a true movie theater, but it could be done in a lab where the experimental motives were ambigious and expanded so that you get a true statistical measure somehow. I think that this idea would work and I would love further critics or people with other ideas to chime in.

You have a hypothesis, that all straight men will first look at the “most” attractive female in a picture first, that is unsupported by any objective testing outside of your own sample of one. What if I look at the motorcycle first?

And why, exactly, do you need to surreptitiously discover people’s sexual orientation? Why can’t you rely on what they choose to tell you?

Based on the replies so far, I believe that this would apply mainly to men. I don’t believe that lesbians and male gays share many common traits. This is not a shot in the dark. I have a partial Ph.D. in sexual differentiation in psychology from an Ivy League school (Dartmouth). It could lead to a test that provides an objective measure of sexual orientation that would benefit researchers as well as people that are confused about their sexual orientation and want to compare it to a baseline. I want the Dopers opinions about this because I believe it could be a big breakthrough. I would love to hear any critical feedback or refinements that you can offer. If you can dismiss the whole idea, then tell me why it wouldn’t work. It is just an idea and I trust that the Dopers will give me something to work with. I am not in a Ph.D. program for the time-being because I couldn’t come up with a dissertation that interested me but this is one that could lead to a whole new area of discovery if it pans out.

Not finding an online cite just now, but there have been penile turgidity studies in which self-identified heterosexual men who are antipathetic (is that a word?) toward gays or “homophobes” have significant penile arousal at “homosexual” imagery. Like most studies regarding sexual orientation, there is much controversy about these results.

Well, at risk of going into GD territory, I’d say the problem is that Mother Nature doesn’t have any objective standards of who is and who isn’t homosexual. What if the person is bi, uncertain about their sexuality, or deep enough in the closet to jinx the results?

The test wouldn’t work, and that’s got nothing to do with technological problems. I fail to see the point of it, anyway.

That is why I asked for replies. My tests would not include a motorcycle for obvious reasons. We are talking about a sample of of people that are judged of the same attractivness level and where you eyes would focus. You, being a guy, would probably agree. We are also not talking about the famous versus the non-famous. These would be of both sexes that are all attractive and unknown to you. Where would you eyes focus? That is the question.

This is not about any extended viewing or “porno”. It is about where you eyes focus first when presented with a group of people.

I want males to answer if they experience the same thing.

That is what research is all about. If you don’t want to do it you don’t have to. Obviously, you have never been in academia or research. Research can help us all. What do you think this is, concentration camp screening? I want to help other people believe that sexual orientiation is biological. It sounds cliche, but most of my friends in college were gay men and they payed my way for all of my recreational activities throughout college. They want someone to prove that it is innate and I have dedicated myself to trying to help them. Don’t assume that someone is a bigot because they want to learn about this.

Yes. I look reflexively at the best-looking person in the picture. 98 times out of 100 this is an adult female.

shagnasty, my point was that you’d first have to establish that heterosexual men always look at the (again) “most” attractive women first for your test to have any validity. And I don’t think that’s a given.

While I’m heterosexual, and have lived through decades of fighting and/or enjoying the fact that my eyes are in fact “pulled” towards attractive women, when viewing a picture centered on Clarke Gable, with Vivian Leigh in the shot to the side, I might well look at Clarke first. Are you then going to tell me that, despite what I think and feel, I must be homosexual? And you can “prove” it?

And what of the gay men who have great interest in some of the female glamour stars of the '40s and '50s? Might a gay Marilyn Monroe fan not swing his gaze towards her first?

What about the guys that look at the “least” attractive women first?

FWIW, I don’t believe that sexual orientation is any where close to being demonstrated as purely biological. There may be hereditary components, but accidents of upbringing, IMHO, are contributors to the mix. If you ever think you’ve identified a physical trait that you can run off to Iceland and run a genetics study on and identify a gay gene, then we could run amniocenteses on everybody’s babies, and tag’em at birth.

“What do you mean, you like girls? We’ve already got your number!”

I don’t know if your hypothesis about where a person looks first is correct. There are many reasons why something might grab his attention initially. I would argue that a better measure is where his eyes “linger.” With a large enough screen, and the ability to surreptitiously videotape an individual person’s eye movements, I think you should be able to superimpose a grid of what they were looking at at each moment over the screen.

Now that I think of it, this would be of interest to advertisers, and movie producers, etc. What attracts people’s attention? Do people fixate on violent images, or avert their gaze? In any case, this information would be very informative and enlightening.

Sattua and Ringo, the question of which female out of a group is the most attractive isn’t particularly relevant here. The point is that when Shagnasty (and presumably most heterosexual males) looks at a set of pictures, the one at which he reflexively looks the most is a female. It’s not unreasonable to suppose that for a gay male, the picture he would look at the most would be a male, in which case this test could objectively measure homosexuality (or at least more objectively than a self-reporting of “On a scale of one to ten, how heterosexual are you”, which is the most commonly used sort of test currently).

On the other hand, some posters here are saying that heterosexual females will also typically look most at a female picture. So it seems plausible, at least, that a homosexual male would as well, which would make this procedure useless for distinguishing heterosexuals from homosexuals. Esprix, are you out there? What pictures do you tend to look at in yearbooks and the like?