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Science of Flirting: 47 flirting traits said to work best

Is there a science of flirting?

You might dress well, have a cool job, and be blessed with beauty, but flirting is where the real magic of attraction is. This is especially when it comes to first impressions.

If you’ve ever wondered if there is a science of flirting then some researchers have news for you. The recently published study is called ‘The art of flirting: What are the traits that make it effective’.

In their study, social scientist Menelaos Apostolou of the University of Nicosia and colleagues looked at 47 different traits involved in flirting — and asked 808 volunteers to rank how likely each was to work on them.

The three highest-ranked traits were humor, intelligence, and good looks.

The researchers explained: “In Study 1 we used open-ended questionnaires in a sample of 487 Greek-speaking participants, and identified 47 traits that make flirting effective.”

Take a look at the most effective ways to flirt below, ranked from most to least effective:
47 flirting traits

For Study 2, the researchers explained:

“We asked 808 Greek-speaking participants to rate how effective each trait would be on them.

“Using principal components analysis, we classified these traits into nine broader factors.

“Having good non-verbal behavior, being intelligent, and having a gentle approach were rated as the most important factors.”

Below, we uncover the:

  • Top three best traits that make flirting effective
  • Top three worst traits for flirting
  • The most important factors of flirting
  • Sex differences found for these factors
  • Age differences found for these factors
  • Key takeaways from the study

The Science of Flirting: Top three best traits that make flirting effective

This study found that when it comes to the science of flirting, humor is the top trait for flirting followed by intelligence and good looks.

If you had to choose between dating someone with a great sense of humor or a heart-stopping sex bomb, which one would you go with?

Maybe everyone realizes a mighty sense of humor is a quality that lets you know you’re dating a keeper. Humor can be a huge thing for someone to bring to a relationship. It can be a turn-on.

TIME ranked humour as a quality that makes someone irresistible, and uh, yea. That seems about right.

Humor is connected to intelligence. And heads may turn when a good-looking person walks in the room, but there’s also something equally attractive about a person who’s funny AF.

Although looks were also rated highly for making flirting effective, looks fade. We know you’ve heard it many times, but you’re destined to wind up like a shriveled shadow of your formerly hot self.

And if we’re keeping score between humor and hotness, we have to say it: The staying power of looks has absolutely nothing on that of humor.

The top three traits that make flirting effective include:

  1. Humor

  2. Intelligence

  3. Good looks

Top three worst traits for flirting

Most of us hate that terrifying question: “What are your hobbies?” As your brain scans for something interesting to say and the best way to make yourself sound more sophisticated than you feel you probably are, what you do answer with probably isn’t too unusual.

We’re guessing you don’t regularly collect navel fluff (yes, really) or take part in competitive dog grooming…

And if you do have a strange hobby, it’s probably best to keep it to yourself. This is because the study found that unusual hobbies were the least effective trait for flirting.

Another bad flirting trait is when the other person is moving too fast. We all know that dating someone can be amazing and there is nothing that can compare to the feeling of being swept off your feet.

But when you fall head-over-heels for someone fast, and there’s just no going back, it can be scary.

As author, and relationship and etiquette expert April Masini said a lot of couples who get together too quickly can end up not lasting.

“Whirlwind romances are very exciting — but many times they leave a trail of destruction in their wake as they wind down and fail,” she says.

“When people get too involved, too quickly, they tend not to get to know each other. I’ve seen people spend more time researching a car purchase than someone they’re going to have sex with and then move in with.”

The third least effective trait for flirting is seriousness. If you are serious with a big capital S (because this refers to a very specific kind of serious) this is not going to help your love life.

And here at My Dating Adviser, we think the world needs more people who don’t care to be particularly serious. This is even more important when it comes to dating!

Here’s what our experts think:

“Be serious at funerals. Be serious in the courtroom. Be serious when you’re in a hospital. But don’t be when you are on a date with someone for the first time.”

The top three worst traits for flirting include:

  1. Unusual hobbies

  2. She/he is moving fast

  3. Seriousness

The most important factors of flirting

Flirting can be baffling territory if you’re not a master of decoding body language.

When you like someone on a date, your body language, expression, and voice will naturally change. This reflects your feelings and signals to the other person you like them.

According to the study, having good non-verbal behavior is one of the most important factors for flirting.

A genuine smile of happiness is probably the most obvious signal you can send to let someone know you like them.

Also, an eyebrow flash is a way to say “I’m pleased to see you.” When your eyes and pupils naturally widen, it’s a true indicator of likes and engagement.

An increase in eye contact also tells your love interest that you are interested in them. We want to look more at something or someone we like. We’re more engaged or even fascinated with them.

According to Tracey Cox from MailOnline:

“A normal face scan lasts three seconds, scan for four-and-a-half and it’s clear they’ve ‘caught your eye’. Eye contact of more than 10 seconds between two people means one of two things: you’re about to fight or have sex (well, you want to anyway).”

flirting study overall

The next most important factor for flirting is intelligence. For the long haul, it’s what’s between your ears and not between your legs that is going to seal the deal. Is it any wonder then that most of us are attracted to intelligence?

And according to a University of New Mexico study, there is a connection between intelligence and virility:

“According to a University of New Mexico study, men who have higher IQs are more virile and have healthier sperm than their duller counterparts. So this is no mere coincidence: intelligence + good sperm signal healthy genes to prospective partners.”

The researchers also found that the gentle approach worked best — with a suitor who was polite, respectful and did not ‘move too fast’ likely to be more successful. We recommend that you turn flirting on and off. The firehose approach is not appealing to anyone.

The most important factors of flirting include:

  1. Having a good non-verbal behavior

  2. Being intelligent

  3. Having a gentle approach

Sex differences found for these factors

They noted that there were key differences between the sexes, too, in terms of which traits were viewed as most effective.

“For example, women rated a gentle approach as more effective on them, while men rated good looks as more effective,” the researchers added.

flirting factors ranked by women

Factors more important to women than men: having a gentle approach

flirting factors ranked by men

Factors more important to men than women: good looks

Age differences found for these factors

The researchers also found that the older a participant was, the more effective they found a “gentle approach” to flirting. Older participants in the study reacted better to a respectful and polite manner from their would-be partner.

flirting factors ranked by age

The Science of Flirting: Key Takeaways from the Study

‘Making good eye contact and having a good smell would make flirting more effective,’ the researchers concluded in their paper.

‘Moreover, as indicated by the “Mystery” factor, giving the impression of a mystery and originality were elements of effective flirting.’

‘Women rated non-verbal behaviors and a gentle approach as more effective on them, while men rated good looks as more effective.’

‘Flirting is an essential aspect of human interaction and key for the formation of intimate relationships.’

Interested in finding more dating stats?


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MyDatingAdviser Team

The team at MyDatingAdviser.com are relationship science experts, writers and dating coaches. They understand that human connection is the motive and result of a meaningful life. They believe the purpose of relationships is not to have another who might complete you but to have another with whom you might share your completeness.