Reviewed by Psychology Today Staff. It is a kind of silent language spoken by men and women around the world. The ways people communicate interest are deeply rooted in human nature. All humans come equipped with the language of flirtation, from ways of glancing to movements such as licking one's lips, to meet nature's most basic command—find a good mate and multiply. Flirting is not a trivial activity; it requires many skills: intellect, body languagecreativityempathy.
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Four studies were implemented in order to ascertain how men and women flirt with potential partners and which flirtatious actions are considered most effective. The were consistent with the hypotheses and are discussed in terms of prior research. One of the tasks men and women looking to form a relationship face is attracting mates. One way to accomplish this task is by flirting. To date, no research has examined which flirtation tactics are perceived as most effective for men and women.
The current research i seeks to ascertain which flirtatious acts are perceived as most effective for men and women, using an evolutionary perspective. Individuals, both married and single, flirt. Additionally, flirtation can be used for either courtship initiation or quasi-courtship purposes. Quasi-courtship refers to instances where flirtatious behaviors are used when one or both parties are not interested in sexual contact Henningsen, ; Scheflen, One example of this is for jealousy induction.
Wade and Weinstein report that individuals can induce jealousy in a current partner by using techniques that involve flirtation with an individual other than their partner.
Flirtation can also be used as a way to gauge how attractive one is to others and as a way to possibly gain resources Henningsen, Flirtation can occur in multiple forms. Both men and women use verbal interaction as a way to communicate interest in someone.
Thus, as Moore reports, it is the women who initiate and control the situation. Men and women alike use nonverbal als, such as direct glancing, space-maximization movements, and automanipulations, in relevant mate-selection contexts Renninger et al.
The nonverbal courtship aling involved in flirtation serves a useful purpose. Therefore, the task for women is to express enough interest to elicit courtship behavior, but not to elicit a level of interest that le a man to skip courtship behavior, while men attempt to display their status, health, strength, and intelligence in a desired, unintimidating way.
From an evolutionary perspective flirting can be thought of as a product of our evolved mate acquisition adaptations. Evolutionary theory suggests that men and women have evolved adaptations to solve the problem of mate acquisition. Buss and Schmitt report that men and women have different mate preferences due to their differences in obligatory parental investment Trivers, Men seek a parental investment from women that is primarily physical.
Specifically, reproductive fitness concerns for men center on future offspring production. Men were and are faced with finding the best possible mates to bear their offspring Buss,; Trivers, Thus, Bussreports that men choose mates based on fertility and reproductive potential cues, and sexual access. Reproductive fitness concerns among women center around securing good genes and a strong parental investment at the financial level Buss, ; Trivers, Women were and are concerned with finding men that are most willing and best able to genetically and financially invest in their offspring Buss, Since men can invest at two levels, genetic and financial Trivers,women most often focus on cues indicative of a strong future parental investment for long term mate selection Buss, Yet, there is a void in the attraction literature.
Recent research has not examined this. It is important to ascertain which flirtatious actions are most effective as this knowledge will further enhance the knowledge base regarding flirtation, and further strengthen the knowledge base regarding human attraction. Since evolutionary theory based research can for many aspects of mate attraction, yet has not examined the effectiveness of overt flirtation tactics, it is important to determine if evolutionary theory can also for the overt tactics that are most effective for flirting with members of the opposite sex.
How to flirt best: the perceived effectiveness of flirtation techniques
The present research sought to examine the aforementioned issue with 4 studies. Studies 1 and 2 ascertained which flirtatious actions are performed by men and women, respectively. Studies 3 and 4 ascertained which flirtatious acts are perceived as most effective for men and women, respectively. They were recruited from an introductory psychology course and on campus. Participants from the introductory psychology class were recruited via posting a -up sheet indicating dates and time when these individuals could take part in the research. Their involvement was in partial fulfillment of research participation requirements associated with the introductory psychology course.
Participants recruited from the campus were approached and asked if they would agree to participate in the research and did not receive any compensation for their involvement.
Participants received a questionnaire that included demographic questions regarding: age, sex, race, and whether or not they were in a relationship. Please list below actions that you have done, or would do, to flirt with a woman for a potential long term relationship a long-term mate or a potential short term relationship a short-term mate. A long-term mate is someone you would date more than a few times and would definitely consider marrying.
A short-term mate is someone you might date just once, have a one night stand with, or date a few times but would not consider marrying. We are interested in specific behaviors. So you should be able to answer the following questions about each thing you list below: Have you ever done this action or would you do this action?
If so, how often have you performed it or would you perform it? The order for the long-term and short-term act nomination questions was varied for participants some participants received the long-term act nomination request first while others received the short-term act nomination first. The nominated acts were examined by one of the authors and one other individual.
Consensus nominated acts were kept. Twenty-six flirtatious acts were identified for men, see Table 1. Additionally, the acts nominated for short-term and long-term mates did not differ. They were recruited from an introductory psychology course and the campus.
Participation from members of the introductory psychology class was in partial fulfillment of research participation requirements associated with the course. Participants recruited from the campus did not receive any compensation for their contribution.
As in Study 1, participants received a questionnaire that included demographic questions regarding: age, sex, race, and whether or not they were in a relationship.
Please list below actions that you have done, or would do, to flirt with a man for a potential long-term relationship a long-term mate or a potential short-term relationship a short-term mate. A long term mate is someone you would date more than a few times and would definitely consider marrying. Once again, the order for the long-term and short-term act nomination questions was varied for participants some participants received the long-term act nomination request first while others received the short-term act nomination first.
As in Study 1, the nominated acts were examined by one of the authors and one other individual. Once again consensus nominated acts were kept. Fourteen flirtatious acts were identified for women, see Table 2.
Table 2 shows acts that range from showing interest, i. As in Study 1, the acts nominated for short-term and long-term mates did not differ. They were recruited online via the campus electronic bulletin board at a private University in the Northeastern United States and via national listservs. Participants did not receive any compensation for their contribution.
Seventy-seven percent of the participants were Caucasian, 6. Also, The following instructions preceded the flirtatious acts:. Below are listed acts that a woman might perform to flirt with a man indicate to a man she is interested in him. We are interested in how effective you think each act would be at achieving this goal. Please read each action carefully and rate it in terms of how successful it would be in attracting you indicating to you that they are interested in you. Use the 7-point scale below each action to indicate the effectiveness of the action.
A 7 means it is highly effective. A 4 means it is moderately effective and a 1 means it is ineffective. Please answer truthfully and do not discuss your responses with others answering the questionnaire. The items for the social desirability scale were summed to create a social desirability sumscore, and a series of Mixed Model Repeated Measures ANOVAs with the social desirability score included as a covariate were computed.
The social desirability covariate was not ificant. Higher s mean the particular love act was perceived as more effective. Comparisons were Bonferroni corrected based on the of comparisons made. Flirtatious actions by men that suggest commitment and exclusivity were expected to be rated higher in perceived effectiveness. Participants did not receive any compensation for their involvement.
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Eighty-one percent of the women were Caucasian, 9. Additionally, Lastly, Below are listed acts that a man might perform to flirt with a woman indicate to a woman he is interested in her. As in Study 3, the items for the social desirability scale were summed to create a social desirability sumscore, and a series of Mixed Model Repeated Measures ANOVAs with the social desirability sumscore included as a covariate were computed.