Flirting study reveals the clues of attraction

WE'RE really bad at detecting if people are flirting with us.

So says Jeffrey Hall, an associate professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas whose research is focused on helping the world understanding when someone is attracted to them.

His latest study, published in the Journal of Non-verbal Behaviour, identifies more clues which reveal romantic attraction.

To discover these, Hall and his team asked 51 pairs of heterosexual strangers to complete questionnaires about their flirting styles before filming them interacting for 10-12 minutes.

Researchers then asked them how much they liked one another.

The team studied the footage and the questionnaires and identified 36 verbal and non-verbal clues to tell if a person is romantically interested: making compliments, asking questions and revealing information, leg-crossing, nodding, palming, leaning forward and playing with objects.

Mainly, however, there were five different flirting styles: physical, traditional, sincere, polite and playful.

"Female sincere flirts laughed and smiled more, and more frequently showed a tell-tale sign of interest - the coy gaze," Hall said.

"We found that as people became more attracted to their conversation partner, they showed that attraction in ways that revealed their flirting style…

"A polite flirt tends to be very hands-off and respectful, but as you can imagine, this type of flirting isn't obvious to the people they're attracted to.

"They lean back, create even more space and are more even in verbal tone. For most people, it signals a lack of closeness, but polite flirts do it more the more attracted they become."

Topics:  flirting study

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