Flirters, One Trait Trumps Them All

Humor, according to science
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2022 3:00 PM CDT
Researchers Find 'Powerful Weapon' in 'Flirtation Arsenal'
   (Getty - jacoblund)

What’s the world’s most effective flirting tactic? Naturally, the answer may be of interest to anyone preparing for a night on the town. However, to evolutionary psychologists who focus on behaviors that sustain the species, “the stakes of flirting are the survival of the human race,” per Mic, reporting on an international study about the “Perceived Effectiveness of Flirtation Tactics.” Researchers rounded up 1,000 volunteers to rate the effectiveness of 40 different types of flirting. In the end, according to one study author, “individual differences in age, religiosity, extroversion, personal attractiveness, and preferences for short-term sexual relationships had little or no effect” on the perceived effectiveness of various tactics. In other words, good looks alone won’t get you in the door.

According to Science Alert, results were “surprisingly similar” across cultures; while local norms affect how people interact, the road to “effective flirting is largely universal.” In general, gender and purpose do make a difference. For women “looking for a fling,” sexy clothes and some incidental physical contact offer a relatively sure road to success. For men who may seek long-term relationships, flirtation should signal generosity and commitment. Those goals aside, one finding cut across gender and culture and straight to the heart of great flirting. Eureka Alert calls it a “powerful weapon in the flirtation arsenal” that “almost always works to some degree for everyone.” That weapon is humor.

Participants agreed that “being able to make another person laugh” is especially effective for men seeking long-term relationships. Per Science Alert, “the authors suspect that is because humor is a hard-to-fake sign of intelligence, creativity, and agreeableness.” And although wisecracking was deemed ineffective for women seeking one-nighters, both genders were turned on when others laughed at their jokes. For those who may lack the knack, researchers suggest baby steps when deploying humor: start by smiling and making eye contact. (Read more flirting stories.)

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