Perspectives on Behavior Science

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 615–636 | Cite as

(I Think) You Are Pretty: a Behavior Analytic Conceptualization of Flirtation

  • Jennifer A. WadeEmail author
Original Research


Much research in flirtation has been approached from a socio-cognitive perspective and has overemphasized subjective self-reports rather than overt behavior. Existing work pertinent to flirtation is reviewed here in addition to proposing a behavior-analytic perspective on the topic with a conception that includes both rule-governed and contingency-shaped behavior. Of particular interest within a verbal behavior conception of flirtation is the importance of autoclitics—features of a verbal response that affect the listener’s reaction to the rest of the verbal response. Applications of a behavior analytic conception of flirtation and future directions relevant to research on interpersonal relationships are discussed.


Autoclitics Interpersonal relationships Rule-governed behavior Contingency-shaped behavior Flirtation 



The author would like to thank Donald Hantula, Philip Hineline, Traci Cihon, Elizabeth Lorah, and Kevin Marchini for invaluable feedback on drafts of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Long BeachUSA

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