A new study investigates the efficacy of different flirting techniques. Flirting is a vital tool in connecting with a potential sexual or romantic partner. It is perceived as being effective based on attractiveness, personality, and sex, among many others. Flirtation techniques can be verbal, like complimenting someone, or nonverbal, like using body language. But have you ever considered what would be the most effective flirting technique for you?
A new study published in Evolutionary Psychology sought to find out the best flirting technique between genders, using people living in Norway and the USA as a case study.
Why USA and Norway?
The researchers wanted to evaluate how universal the flirtation behaviors are, and they considered the USA and Norway as case studies. They chose Norway because the country is among the most gender-egalitarian societies, sexually liberal, and secular nations. The United States, on the other hand, is lower on all these measures. So if the results in the land of the (sexually) free, Norway, match up with the more religious and conservative USA, then it supports the idea that flirting behavior is universal.
The research’s lead author, Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair, and his colleagues used samples from Norway and the United States for the study. Students from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology made up the Norway sample, while 1st to 4th-year university students from the Northeastern United States made up the US sample.
The scientists developed four versions of the questionnaire:
- A woman flirting with a man for a long-term relationship
- A woman flirting with a man for short-term sex
- A man flirting with a woman for a long-term relationship, and
- A man flirting with a woman for short-term sex
Participants completed measures about the different flirtation tactics used: extraversion, socio-sexuality, religiosity, and mate value.
The study found that flirting techniques differ between genders. For women, researchers found that the most effective strategies for a short-term sexual fling were clear displays of purpose and availability, such as bumping against possible partners, getting closer, and establishing body contact. Being humorous was the least effective strategy, and a friendly embrace or kiss on the cheek wasn’t any better.
For men, it wasn’t quite so simple. The study found that men were more effective if they exhibited physical and sexual tactics, smiled, showed interest in conversations, gave compliments, and made her laugh. It’s kind of more complex than just an approach-and-grind.
Displaying physical attributes or wearing more revealing clothing was rated more effective when applied by women hoping for a short-term fling. Flirting tactics involving generosity were more effective when used by men after a long-term relationship because it cues investment.
Using intimate conversations wasn’t very effective for women. However, it’s a little more effective after a short-term relationship and more for men after a long-term relationship. The one thing that came up as success across the board was the use of humor – either being funny or showing a potential partner that they are.
Both genders applied comparable flirting strategies in long-term relationship situations. However, men varied more than women in strategies or approaches used between short and long-term flings. Furthermore, generosity and seeking attention were more effective in the US sample than in the Norwegian sample.
Women scored higher on both humor and responsiveness. The United States sample showed higher levels of religious beliefs, while the Norwegian sample scored higher on the socio-sexual measure.
Researchers found few differences between the two countries
There were some distinctions between Norway and the United States: American men preferred overt sexual displays from women, and American women preferred rich men over northern European females.
While the study made significant progress in understanding gender variations in flirting methods in the two countries, it is not without its flaws. The fact that both countries used were Western countries is one such constraint. Future studies could use nations with greater contrast to see how the outcomes differ. Another disadvantage is that this study only included heterosexual participants, which means it may not apply to same-sex relationships.
Another limitation of the study is that the researchers did not see people flirting in public and then compared their behaviors to the findings. Instead, participants were asked how effective they thought these practices were. It’s possible that incorrect assumptions influenced the results.