You’re out one night with friends when you fall into conversation with a guy sitting at the table next to you. He pulls his chair up next to yours and starts chatting with all of your friends. He talks to everyone but you, it seems, even though he can’t keep his eyes off you. At one point his leg definitely brushes yours. You think, ‘Is he flirting with me? Or am I just imagining things?
It’s no wonder you might be confused. After all, flirting isn’t always obvious. That makes sense since no one wants to come across as creepy. What’s more, openly showing your interest makes you vulnerable to rejection.
Even when it is pretty clear someone is flirting with you, it can be hard to work out how to read it. Are they just playing around? Are they actually interested in going out on a date? Are they just looking for sex? How can you tell what they’ve got in mind?
That’s precisely what a team of US researchers wanted to find out. They were curious about how good we are at telling when someone we’ve just met is flirting with us.
Top flirt-spotters: girls or guys?
They matched opposite-sex heterosexual strangers and got them to have a chat for about ten minutes. But then afterwards the researchers asked each of the chatters two key questions: ‘Did you flirt?’ and ‘Did the other person flirt?’ What’s more they also filmed the conversations, showed the videos to strangers and asked them if they thought the guy or the girl they’d watched in the clip was flirting.
The researchers then compared the answers of guys and girls to see which sex was better at detecting flirting.
It turns out that guys actually have better flirt-detection skills than girls, the study found. It’s possible that women are a little more obvious in making their romantic intentions known, the researchers suggest.
Of the female participants, fewer than a fifth guessed right when asked if their partner was being flirtatious. With the guys, more than a third got it right. But that still leaves the vast majority who are clueless when it comes to detecting that someone digs them!
Don't miss out
Both guys and girls are much better at knowing when someone isn’t into them at all. More than 80 percent of the time, both sexes guessed correctly that their partner was definitely not flirting, the results also showed.
So next time you’re out with friends and you think someone’s definitely not into you, chances are you’re right. Of course, what you really want to know is when someone is flirting with you. Keep your eyes peeled, because this research shows that most of us miss out on that flirtatious guy or girl.
Source: Accurately Detecting Flirting: Error Management Theory, the Traditional Sexual Script, and Flirting Base Rate, Jeffrey A. Hall, Chong Xing, Seth Brooks
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