Evolutionary Psychological Science

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 443–455 | Cite as

Creative Casanovas: Mating Strategy Predicts Using—but Not Preferring—Atypical Flirting Tactics

  • Justin White
  • Helena Lorenz
  • Carin PerillouxEmail author
  • Aliehs Lee
Research Article


Although flirting behaviors tend to be covert, subtle signals of sexual interest, people are routinely able to employ and decipher such signals successfully to attract mates. Flirting research often focuses on the accuracy of interpreting flirting signals, but the creation and employment of flirting signals has been understudied. The present set of studies examined whether mating strategy would impact preferences for typical or atypical flirting behaviors. In study 1, we conducted an act nomination followed by two rounds of pilot testing to generate a set of flirting behaviors rated on typicality and effectiveness (total N = 416). For study 2, participants (N = 396) read scenarios in which an opposite sex individual showed sexual interest in them, and then chose a response from a set of flirting behaviors that varied in typicality. Consistent with our hypothesis, pursuing a short-term mating strategy was associated with selecting more atypical behaviors. Finally, study 3 explored whether short-term mating would also be associated with preferring atypical flirting behaviors when one is the target rather than the initiator. Participants (N = 486) responded to the same scenarios and flirting behavior options as in study 2 but this time selected which flirting behavior would be most attractive to them as the target. Interestingly, the relationship between mating strategy and typicality of flirting behaviors disappeared; almost all participants preferred the initiator to use the most typical flirting behavior. The apparent mismatch for short-term maters between flirting strategies employed and preferred is discussed.


Flirting Mating strategy Sex differences Atypical Creativity 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justin White
    • 1
  • Helena Lorenz
    • 1
  • Carin Perilloux
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aliehs Lee
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologySouthwestern UniversityGeorgetownUSA

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