The Verbal and Nonverbal Correlates of the Five Flirting Styles

Abstract

The present investigation identifies the nonverbal and verbal behaviors associated with the five flirting styles (i.e., physical, traditional, sincere, polite, playful) (Hall et al. in Commun Q 58:365–393, 2010). Fifty-one pairs (N = 102) of opposite-sex heterosexual strangers interacted for 10–12 min and then reported their physical attraction to their conversational partner. Four independent coders coded 36 nonverbal and verbal behaviors. The residual variance of the interaction term between each flirting style and physical attraction was calculated, accounting for variance associated with the other styles. These five residual terms were separately correlated with the coded verbal and nonverbal behaviors. Each flirting style was correlated with behaviors linked to the conceptualization of that style: more conversational fluency for physical flirts, more demure behaviors for traditional female flirts and more assertive and open behaviors by traditional male flirts, less fidgeting, teasing, and distraction and more smiling for sincere flirts, more reserved and distancing behavior by polite flirts, and more obviously engaging and flirtatious behaviors by playful flirts.

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Acknowledgements

Thanks to study coordinators and coders: Seth Brooks, Arianne Fuchsberger, Courtney Holle, Robin Latham, Trevor Perry. This research was supported by the University of Kansas General Research Fund (GRF Award No. 2301662).

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Correspondence to Jeffrey A. Hall.

Appendix

Appendix

Category Description How coded
Head
Rest head Rest head in hand or on back of chair Count
Nodding Moving head in an up or down direction in order to express/signal agreement or interest in what the other participant is saying Count
Shaking head Moving head side to side to express/signal disagreement or lack of interest in what the other participant is saying Count
Stroking, flipping, playing with hair Pulling hair in a downward/through motion Count
Tussling, smoothing, or fixing hair
Moving hair out of face
Twirling
Any flip motion
Putting hair up or taking hair down
Mouth/face
Lips Bringing lips into mouth Count
Licking lips
Biting lip
Smiling Moving sides of mouth in an upward direction Count
Mouth manipulations Open mouth—dropped jaw Count
Pouting
Mouth movements for expressiveness (clenching, licking, or exposing teeth, wincing, “o” face)
Thoughtful mouth—downturned
Expressiveness of face Eye brown flashes Count
Raising eyebrows
Big eyes, squinting eyes, mock anger
Overemphasizing facial expressions
Exaggerated smile—open mouth smile
Voice
Laughter Laughing in response to the other participant Count
Nervous laughter
Giggling—a light laugh in a nervous affected or silly manner
Signaling laughter (“ha” before, during, or after talk)
Vocal expressiveness Quick rate of speech 1 = Slow, monotone
Voice animated and excited 5 = Animated, excited
Lots of variation in tone or pitch
(Overall rating for minute)
 
Pitch/tone 5 = Higher pitch, more feminine tone, 5 = High pitch
1 = Low pitch, more masculine tone, lower voice (Overall rating for minute) 3 = Androgynous
1 = Low pitch
Torso/body
Leaning toward other participant Forward angled motion from the hip, moving from an erect or closed off position to a open or angled position in the direction of the other participant 1 = Leans back/away from other
Upper body upright toward the other participant
(Overall rating for minute)
3 = Up-right, or leans in occasionally
5 = Leans forward nearly whole time
Arms cross, open torso Full exposure to breast/chest and stomach area (arms not crossed) 1 = Arms crossed nearly whole time
Arms crossed around chest, stomach (overall rating for minute) 3 = One arm crossed, Hands in lap, or half open and half crossed over minute
5 = Open, full exposure near whole time
Move closer together Attempt to move chair closer to other person Count
Scooting body forward in seat
Breast presentation/protrusion Lifting or expanding chest/breast area by extending lower back upward toward other person, or by pulling arms away from other person Count
In combination with leaning forward, pressing breasts together with upper torso
Fall in chair Letting body fall into chair either backward or sideways Count
Bending at torso or throwing head back or to the side
Touch Most likely in greeting or departure Count
Count for minute
Hands
Palming Open wrist and palm of the hand Count
Turning motion toward open toward other person—full motion
Hand movements Using hands to emphasize a point or to help express what they are saying verbally Count
Any hand movement gets counted
Usually this accompanies speech
Self touching Hands running along any part of the body Count
Any time a body part is moving along another body part in pointed/noticeable way
Itching body, head, or face
(Not hair touch)
Artifact adjustments Resituating clothing Count
Eyewear adjustment
Rolling up sleeves or pant legs or skirts
Adjusting clothing in a way that reveals more skin
Playing with objects Wringing or messing with hands—rings, watches, bracelets, nails, etc. Count
Playing with buttons, zippers, strings
Fiddling with other objects
(Not the card)
Card manipulation Folding, turning, flipping, bending, waving card 1 = Not at all
Using card to enhance message or illustrate a point 3 = Some card
Pointing to or holding out card when talking about the question on the card 5 = Constant card fidgeting
Cover face with hands Cover mouth with hand Count
Put one or two hands on cheeks or chin
Stroking chin or facial hair
Eyes
Flirtatious glances Eyebrow flash with a smile (coy smile) Count
Half-smile and lowered eyes
Winking
Sideways smile/look
Gazing To look steadily or intently at the other versus looking down and away
(Overall rating for minute)
1 = Looking away/down nearly whole time
3 = Half look at and half look down/away
5 = Steady, intent gaze at other
Coy gaze Brief look followed by look away—a gaze implying shyness or modesty but intended to be alluring Count
Legs
Erect and open posture—legs Count every time legs cross or uncross Count
Either one foot on one thigh, crossing at the ankles, or crossing at knee
Conversation
Asking questions Asking the other for advice, opinions, or inputs when answering the question Count
Requesting reassurance on the answers they are giving based on the card questions or interpreting the question (is this what it is asking?)
Asking questions that are not on the card
Affirming Affirming (yes, that is interesting, oh?) Count
Encouraging responses—really? Sure!
General agreement or support
Teasing To make fun of or tease the other person in a good-natured or light-hearted way Count
To attempt to provoke in a playful way
Self-deprecating remarks Positive and emphasized sarcasm about self—followed a noticeable friendly comment Count
Self-disparaging comment followed by smiling or laughter
Not caring or not knowing is not self-deprecating
Conversational fluency Choppy, with lots of interruptions, and long pauses or very smooth conversation with few overlapping and little pause between talk
(Overall rating for minute)
1 = Lots of hesitation, short responses, overlapping, or uncomfortable silence
3 = Normal conversation/appropriate conversation
5 = Very smooth and fluent conversation; Conversation you might see between close friends, Enjoyment obvious
Depth of disclosure Yes, no or very short responses to questions versus more personal information
(Overall rating for minute)
1 = Short, curt, and non-detailed responses
5 = Long, detailed responses, with personal disclosure
Amount of talk How much did the subject talk versus the other person 1 = Other person
1 = Other person talked nearly whole time 3 = 50/50
5 = The subject talked nearly the whole time 5 = Subject talked
Self-promotion No self-promotion, even modesty when good accomplishments noted Count
Provide lots of details about accomplishments, achievements, or good things about self
(Overall rating for minute)

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Hall, J.A., Xing, C. The Verbal and Nonverbal Correlates of the Five Flirting Styles. J Nonverbal Behav 39, 41–68 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10919-014-0199-8

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Keywords

  • Courtship
  • Flirting styles
  • Nonverbal behavior
  • Physical attraction