A study titled “I saw him first: Competitive nonverbal flirting among women, the tactics used and their perceived effectiveness” did a deep dive into effectiveness of flirting tactics for women competing for the same man.
That study was published in the peer-reviewed academic journal Personality and Individual Differences. In it, researchers looked into “nonverbal actions women use to flirt competitively against each other for the purposes of accessing a mate.” The study then asked what the “perceived effectiveness” was of those flirting techniques.
Scientists asked 91 heterosexual women how they flirted when they knew they were competing for the attention of one man. The women said they would do things like make eye contact with the man, smile, touch him, get between him and the other woman, flirt with other men, and wave.
The researchers then asked 89 women and 50 men to rank the “perceived effectiveness” of those flirting moves. The five most effective tactics were touch, initiate eye contact, hug, giggle at jokes, and butt into the conversation.
They also looked at how men and women may nonverbally signal interest in potential romantic partners. Age did not seem to have any impact on how flirting occurred.
“I have other research investigating flirting tactics and their perceived effectiveness, as well as other research investigating how men and women signal potential mates nonverbally in mate relevant contexts. So, I have a strong interest in flirtation,” the study’s author T. Joel Wade told PsyPost.
“The third author of the current study was talking to me after a class session focused on flirting and she asked me a question about how women competitively flirt with other women for men’s attention in a mate relevant situation, and I told her I was not aware of any research that had examined the topic,” Wade continued. “So, we decided to do the research, and we brought in the second author, who is an international expert on intra-sexual competition among women.”
According to Wade, a “women’s flirtation to attract a mate is different from women’s flirtation to deter a competitor.”
“One caveat is that the research focused on perceived effectiveness rather than actual effectiveness,” Wade added.
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