Can You Tell When Someone is Flirting? Researchers Classify the Most Effective Facial Cues Including Slight Smiles and Head Tilts
I remember reading a study in a copy of Reader’s Digest sometime in the 1990s, or maybe in the early 2000s, where researchers found that most men confuse platonic gestures or comments by women to be sexual or flirtatious.
As for me personally, I’ve had many men over my life confuse and mistake my platonic chit-chat or simple politeness as being flirting – then they start “hitting” on me, asking me out – and I hate it. It causes me to get annoyed and clam up. I did point blank tell one guy who did this to me one time that I was NOT flirting with him, I was just chit chatting.
by Dan Avery
Sept 14, 2020
When it comes to flirting, it’s all in a look.
Women give specific facial cues when they’re flirting, according to researchers at the University of Kansas.
The team used the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) to identify the most recognizable flirtatious facial expressions.
The technology, which describes facial movements, showed the most effective flirting cues include a head turned to one side and tilted down slightly, a slight smile, and eyes turned forward toward the target.
Flirting is one of the key components of human sexuality, but it’s only just begun to be analyzed by scientists.
‘There are very few scientific articles out there that have systematically studied this well-known phenomenon,’ said Omri Gillath, a psychologist at the University of Kansas, and co-author of the report, published in the Journal of Sex Research.
…He explained the looks are different from similar expressions, like smiling, that aren’t always a part of flirting.
‘It has a unique morphology, ‘ Gillath said.
In the studies, women were asked either to spontaneously offer what they thought was a flirtatious expression or follow the researchers’ instructions on what look to give.
The participants were a mix of professional actresses and regular volunteers.
Some women were more effective at conveying a ‘flirtatious’ facial cue, and some men were better at recognizing it, but certain expressions were successfully identified by nearly all men as flirting.
…A study from May also indicated visual cues played a more important role than pickup lines when it came to flirting.
…’Women rated non-verbal behaviors and a gentle approach as more effective on them, while men rated good looks as more effective.’
Older participants reacted better to a respectful and polite manner from a would-be suitor.