We’ve all heard about the gaydar – you know the idea that someone can tell whether a person is straight or gay just by looking at them – but is it a real thing? According to new research, apparently not.

New research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has revealed that there is no evidence to suggest the gaydar exists, despite a study in 2008 claiming it does.

For the study, researchers divided participants into three groups before asking them to identify strangers’ sexuality. Group A was told the gaydar was a real thing. Group B was told it was a bad thing that supported negative stereotypes, and Group C was told nothing about the gaydar at all.

Group A’s results showed that they had relied on generalisations (such as men like shopping) and picked out people accordingly.

The study’s leader William Cox and an assistant scientist in the Department of Psychology, told Marie Claire that even the idea of a gaydar is bad, because it promotes stereotyping and generalisations.

“Most people think of stereotyping as inappropriate,” he said.

“But if you’re not calling it ‘stereotyping’, if you’re giving in this other label and camouflaging it as ‘gaydar’, it appears to be more socially and personally acceptable.”

The social scientists behind the study believe that there’s a much simpler reason why participants in the 2008 study could guess a person’s sexual inclinations: the photos of the gay men and women were actually of a higher quality than those of their straight counterparts.

So, is it impossible to tell whether someone is gay or not just by looking at them? What do you think?