ArticlePDF Available

Flirting Competence: An Experimental Study on Appropriate and Effective Opening Lines

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

An experiment was conducted to examine the appropriateness and effectiveness of five flirtatious opening lines enacted by a male participant to initiate conversation with a female participant. Video messages were constructed to represent the following opening lines: direct introductions, direct compliments, humor attempts, cute–flippant lines, and third-party introductions. Participants were 642 college students who viewed one of these five videos and reported on the appropriateness and effectiveness of an opening line after controlling for perceptions of actor physical attractiveness. Results indicated that participants rated the third-party introduction and direct introduction opening lines as the most appropriate, whereas the third-party introduction was perceived as the most effective. Direct compliments, humor attempts, and cute–flippant lines were rated as equally inappropriate and ineffective.
Content may be subject to copyright.
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE
This article was downloaded by:
[Bloomsburg University]
On:
30 April 2010
Access details:
Access Details: [subscription number 917347716]
Publisher
Routledge
Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-
41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Communication Research Reports
Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t714579429
Flirting Competence: An Experimental Study on Appropriate and Effective
Opening Lines
Keith Weber a; Alan K. Goodboy b;Jacob L. Cayanus c
a Department of Communication Studies, West Virginia University, b Department of Communication
Studies, Bloomsburg University, c Department of Communication and Journalism, Oakland University,
Online publication date: 28 April 2010
To cite this Article Weber, Keith , Goodboy, Alan K. andCayanus, Jacob L.(2010) 'Flirting Competence: An Experimental
Study on Appropriate and Effective Opening Lines', Communication Research Reports, 27: 2, 184 — 191
To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/08824091003738149
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08824091003738149
Full terms and conditions of use: http://www.informaworld.com/terms-and-conditions-of-access.pdf
This article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial or
systematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply or
distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.
The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contents
will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug doses
should be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss,
actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly
or indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
BRIEF REPORT
Flirting Competence: An
Experimental Study on Appropriate
and Effective Opening Lines
Keith Weber, Alan K. Goodboy, & Jacob L. Cayanus
An experiment was conducted to examine the appropriateness and effectiveness of five
flirtatious opening lines enacted by a male participant to initiate conversation with a
female participant. Video messages were constructed to represent the following opening
lines: direct introductions, direct compliments, humor attempts, cute–flippant lines,
and third-party introductions. Participants were 642 college students who viewed one
of these five videos and reported on the appropriateness and effectiveness of an opening
line after controlling for perceptions of actor physical attractiveness. Results indicated
that participants rated the third-party introduction and direct introduction opening lines
as the most appropriate, whereas the third-party introduction was perceived as the most
effective. Direct compliments, humor attempts, and cute–flippant lines were rated as
equally inappropriate and ineffective.
Keywords: Competence; Flirtation; Flirting; Opening Lines; Pick-Up Lines
Romantic relationships may thrive or cease to develop based on initial communication
encounters between potential partners. Indeed, the act of flirting is an initial
communication encounter that revolves around sexual and relational expectations
Keith Weber (EdD, West Virginia University, 1998) is an associate professor in the Department of
Communication Studies at West Virginia University. Alan K. Goodboy (PhD, West Virginia University,
2007) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Bloomsburg University. Jacob
L. Cayanus (EdD, West Virginia University, 2005) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communi-
cation and Journalism at Oakland University. Correspondence: Keith Weber, Department of Communication
Studies, West Virginia University, 108 Armstrong Hall, P.O. Box 6293, Morgantown, WV 26506-6293. E-mail:
kaweber98@yahoo.com
Communication Research Reports
Vol. 27, No. 2, April–June 2010, pp. 184–191
ISSN 0882-4096 (print)/ISSN 1746-4099 (online) #2010 Eastern Communication Association
DOI: 10.1080/08824091003738149
Downloaded By: [Bloomsburg University] At: 15:51 30 April 2010
(Egland, Spitzberg, & Zormeier, 1996; Henningsen, 2004) and constitutes one way to
establish intimacy, sexual intentions, and relational definitions (Egland et al., 1996).
Flirting can be seen as a major part of social relations and as an indication of interest,
and can be the first step in a long-term relationship (Koeppel, Montage-Miller,
O’Hair, & Cody, 1993; Levine, King, & Popoola, 1994). The main reasons to study
flirtation and initial interactions, according to Koeppel et al. are to promote under-
standing and to ‘‘make communicators aware of how to avoid potentially serious
mistakes in social relations’’ (p. 31).
Some empirical attention has been given to the concept of flirtation (e.g., Abbey,
1987; Abbey & Melby, 1986; Abrahams, 1994; Egland et al., 1996; La France,
Henningsen, Oates, & Shaw, 2009; Rodgers & Veronsky, 1999), as well as the nonver-
bal behaviors associated with sexual intentions of the source, such as eye contact and
smiling (e.g., Abbey & Melby, 1986; Koeppel et al., 1993; Kowalski, 1993; McCormick &
Jones, 1989; Walsh & Hewitt, 1985). Although research has primarily focused on
nonverbal behaviors, Kleinke, Meeker, and Staneski (1986) stated, ‘‘ultimately,
however, when we want to make a new acquaintance we have to think of something
to say’’ (p. 586).
According to Levine et al. (1994), opening lines (commonly referred to as pick-up
lines) refer to what an individual says when attempting to initiate romantic com-
munication. Kleinke et al. (1986) proposed three categories of opening lines: direct
(i.e., straightforward communication attempts), innocuous (i.e., implicit and vague
communication attempts), and cute–flippant (i.e., preplanned cliche
´s). Research sug-
gests that women perceive innocuous lines as the best strategies, followed by direct,
and then cute–flippant lines (Cunningham, 1989; Kleinke et al., 1986). Levine et al.
also discovered that cute–flippant lines were rated as the least positive. There is, how-
ever, another category of opening lines that studies have failed to investigate. Parks
and Eggert (1989) discussed the role of third parties and social networks as a form
of relationship initiation and noted that individuals may use friends or family to
introduce them to a person they find interesting or attractive. Similarly, Clark,
Shaver, and Abrahams (1999) found that two of the most instrumental relationship
initiation strategies were direct and third-party strategies. More recently, in a focus
group study (Weber, Cayanus, & Goodboy, 2005), participants revealed five common
opening lines. Three of these opening linesdirect introduction, third-party intro-
ductions, and cute–flippant linesare consistent with the research by Kleinke et al.
and Clark et al. However, the remaining two types of lines were coded as direct
compliments (i.e., flattering a prospect) and humor attempts (i.e., using innocuous
but amusing comments). As a result of the previous research on these types of lines,
the following hypothesis was proposed:
H1: The use of cute–flippant lines will be perceived as less (a) appropriate and (b)
effective than the use of direct introductions and third-party introductions.
Although there is research indicating how effective these first three types of attempts
might be, the remaining two types of lines found in the focus groups were coded as
direct compliments (i.e., flattering a prospect) and humor attempts (i.e., using
Communication Research Reports 185
Downloaded By: [Bloomsburg University] At: 15:51 30 April 2010
innocuous but amusing comments). How these attempts might be perceived is
unclear at this point and as such, the following research question was forwarded:
RQ1: How will the use of humor appeals and direct compliments be perceived on (a)
appropriateness and (b) effectiveness as compared to cute–flippant lines, direct
introductions, and third-party introductions?
Similarly, whereas Cunningham (1989), Kleinke et al. (1986), and Levine et al. (1994)
suggested that direct lines are perceived more positively than cute–flippant lines,
Levine et al. found that men rate all opening lines more positively than women.
However, because Levine et al. did not test the effectiveness of third-party, humor,
and direct compliment opening lines, it is uncertain if men and women will differ
in their ratings of these types of appeals. As a result, the following research question
is forwarded regarding gender differences:
RQ2: Will gender differences exist in participants ratings of the opening lines?
Method
Participants
The participants in this study were 642 college students from a large, mid-Atlantic
university. The mean age was 20.1 (SD ¼1.32), with a range of 18 to 36. There were
312 men and 308 women (22 did not report gender). Participation in this study was
completely voluntary, but extra credit was offered; students who chose not to partici-
pate in this study were given an alternative manner in which to receive extra credit.
Procedures
Five different videos were created to portray an initial interaction between a male and
female character. These videos were filmed with professional recording equipment in
a bar that was rented for the day with a paid bartender and actors. The script for the
videos begins with two male friends meeting in a bar and chatting, when one of the male
characters spots an attractive women sitting across the room. The male actor decides to
approach the woman. All five scripts were two minutes in length and were exactly the
same until the moment when the male character first approaches the female character.
At the point of approach, the male character initiates a conversation with the female
character using one of the five opening lines targeted for study (see Table 1 for examples).
After viewing one of the five experimental videos, participants completed a brief
questionnaire and were told to respond to the items based on their perceptions of
the interaction between the two actors.
Instrumentation
The Canary and Spitzberg (1987) Conversational Appropriateness Scale was used to
assess participants’ ratings of the appropriateness of the male actor in his interaction
186 K. Weber et al.
Downloaded By: [Bloomsburg University] At: 15:51 30 April 2010
with the female actor (e.g., ‘‘Everything he said was appropriate’’). This scale is
comprised of 20 items that are measured on a 7-point Likert scale, ranging from 1
(strongly agree)to7(strongly disagree)(M¼3.73, SD ¼1.18; a¼.93). Responses
on the scale were recoded so that higher scores indicated that the participants
perceived the male actor to be more appropriate.
Five items from the 20-item Canary and Spitzberg (1989) Conversational
Effectiveness Scale were used to measure participants’ perceptions of how effective
the man was in initiating the interaction with the female actor (e.g., ‘‘His communi-
cation was effective’’). Only five items were chosen because many of the items on the
scale did not seem appropriate in this context. We felt that this was an acceptable
decision because Rubin, Palmgreen, and Sypher (1994) advised users of the scale to
create acceptable subscales in their review of the measure. The questionnaire asks
participants to respond to the items on a 7-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 (strongly
agree)to7(strongly disagree)(M¼3.46, SD ¼1.41; a¼.87). Consistent with previous
research, a statistically significant correlation was observed between the conver-
sational appropriateness and effectiveness measures in this dataset (r¼.65, p<.001).
Control Variables
In an attempt to control for extraneous variables, the actors were instructed to keep
their nonverbal cues constant in each of the experimental manipulations (e.g., stand
the same distance from each other, eye contact, facial expression, etc.). Nonverbal
immediacy scores on both the male and the female actors were collected for each of
the experimental groups to use as a control variable (e.g., ‘‘He smiled’’ and ‘‘He main-
tained eye contact’’). Eight representative items from the Nonverbal Immediacy Scale
(Richmond, McCroskey, & Johnson, 2003) were used to measure nonverbal behaviors
that increase perceived physical or psychological closeness (e.g., eye contact, smiling,
etc.), which are frequently construed as flirting behaviors (Walsh & Hewitt, 1985).
Table 1 Opening Lines, Descriptions, and Representative Examples
Opening line Description Example
Direct introduction Initiating a conversation with a
simple introduction.
‘‘Hi, my name is Josh. What is your
name?’’
Direct compliment Giving a compliment based on
physical attraction.
‘‘I had to tell you how fine you are.’’
Humor attempt Attempting to enact humor to make
the other person laugh
‘‘Do you think I look like Johnny
Depp?’’
Cute–flippant line Trite cliche
´s that are intended to
appear cute.
‘‘You must be tired because you’ve
been running through my mind
all day.’’
Third-party
introduction
Using a common acquaintance to
perform the initial introduction.
‘‘Hi Kayla, this is my friend Josh.’’
Communication Research Reports 187
Downloaded By: [Bloomsburg University] At: 15:51 30 April 2010
This scale asks participants to respond to the items on a 5-point Likert scale, ranging
from 1 (strongly disagree)to5(strongly agree). Results of an analysis of variance
(ANOVA) indicated that no significant difference existed in the ratings of the male
character’s use of nonverbal immediacy (M¼3.87, SD ¼0.66; a¼.72) between the
different videos, F(4, 623) ¼1.08, p¼.37. Similarly, results of an ANOVA indicated
no significant difference in the ratings of the female character’s nonverbal immediacy
(M¼3.44, SD ¼0.67; a¼.70) between the different videos, F(4, 621) ¼0.92, p¼.45.
Similar to nonverbal immediacy, it is possible that the difference in the perceived
attractiveness levels of the actors could serve as a confounding variable. Participants
were asked to ‘‘rate the attractiveness of’’ each actor on a scale from 1 (extremely
unattractive)to10(extremely attractive). Results of a paired ttest indicated that par-
ticipants rated the female actor (M¼6.55, SD ¼1.64) as being significantly more
attractivet(627) ¼22.71, p<.01than the male actor (M¼4.72, SD ¼1.78). As
a result, the difference in the actor’s attractiveness rating was used as a covariate in
all subsequent analyses. In addition, it is important to note that, across conditions,
no significant differences were found in either the men’s attractiveness levels, F(4,
625) ¼2.32, p¼.06, or the women’s attractiveness levels, F(4, 626) ¼0.14, p¼.97.
This finding removes the possibility that participants in any one treatment group
found the actors more or less attractive for some reason that we had not controlled for.
Results
To test H1,RQ1, and to control for experiment-wide error rate (Hatcher, 1994;
Khattree & Naik, 2000; O’Rourke, Hatcher, & Stepanski, 2005), a multivariate analysis
of covariance was first computed utilizing the five different experimental opening line
conditions as the independent variables, with scores on the two outcome variables
serving as the dependent variables. In addition, the difference in the male and female
attractiveness ratings was entered as a covariate. The results of this analysis yielded a
significant model, Wilks’s K(8, 1,240) ¼0.54, p<.001. The individual analyses of
covariance (ANCOVAs) were then examined to test H1 and RQ1. Results of the first
ANCOVA revealed a significant model, F(4, 621) ¼125.13, p<.001 (partial g
2
¼.45).
A closer examination of Tukey’s multiple comparison test indicated that third-party
introduction (M¼5.70, SD ¼0.96) and direct introduction (M¼4.94, SD ¼0.89)
were rated as significantly more appropriate than direct compliments (M¼3.35,
SD ¼0.91), humor attempts (M¼3.29, SD ¼0.77), or cute–flippant lines (M¼
3.14, SD ¼0.87). Results of the second ANCOVA was also significant, F(4, 621) ¼
41.00, p<.001 (partial g
2
¼.21); and Tukey’s multiple comparison test indicated that
third-party introduction (M¼4.70, SD ¼1.42) was perceived as significantly more
effective than all other opening lines. In addition, the direct introduction opening line
(M¼4.44, SD ¼1.50) was rated as more effective than the direct compliments (M¼
3.26, SD ¼1.25), humor attempts (M¼3.02, SD ¼1.31), and cute–flippant lines
(M¼2.98, SD ¼1.28; see Table 2).
RQ2 was concerned with gender differences in the appropriateness and
effectiveness ratings. Results of individual ttests indicated that men rated the male
188 K. Weber et al.
Downloaded By: [Bloomsburg University] At: 15:51 30 April 2010
actor as being significantly more appropriatet(618) ¼2.56, p<.01and
effectivet(618) ¼2.65, p<.01 (M¼3.85, SD ¼1.17 and M¼3.60, SD ¼1.41,
respectively)than did women (M¼3.62, SD ¼1.21 and M¼3.31, SD ¼1.39,
respectively). However, these differences accounted for less than 2%of the variance
in participants’ ratings.
Discussion
The purpose of this study was to examine the appropriateness and effectiveness of
five different opening lines men use to initiate flirtatious communication with
women. The results indicated that participants rated both third-party introductions
and direct introductions as the most appropriate, but third-party introductions were
perceived as the most effective. Third-party introductions involve a sponsorship
effect if the individual performing the introduction is perceived positively by the
woman being approached. That is, if the third party performing the introduction
is seen as trustworthy by the female participant, it is likely that the participant would
attribute similar characteristics to the man being introduced. This idea is also consist-
ent with what persuasion researchers often refer to as a ‘‘sponsorship effect’’ (Gass &
Seiter, 1999).
One of the more surprising findings was the negative responses participants
exhibited with respect to the humor attempt condition. It is possible that participants
did not perceive the humor attempt message as funny. If this was the case, then it is
understandable how the humorous attempt opening line could be confused with an
attempt to use a cliche
´or a cute–flippant line. This finding highlights the risk an
individual takes when attempting to use humor to make a positive impression
(Wanzer & Frymier, 1999). Similarly, the direct compliment opening line may also
Table 2 Results of Analyses of Covariance Between Opening Lines and Conversational
Appropriateness and Effectiveness
Dependant variable Opening line MSDn
Appropriateness
a
Third-party introduction 5.70
a
0.96 127
Direct introduction 4.94
a
0.89 230
Direct compliment 3.35
b
0.91 79
Humor attempt 3.29
b
0.77 98
Cute–flippant 3.14
b
0.87 93
Effectiveness
b
Third-party introduction 4.70
a
1.42 127
Direct introduction 4.44
b
1.50 230
Direct compliment 3.26
c
1.25 79
Humor attempt 3.02
c
1.31 98
Cute–flippant 2.98
c
1.28 93
Note. Means with different subscripts are significantly different from each other.
a
F(4, 621) ¼125.13, p<.001 (partial g
2
¼44.6%).
b
F(4, 621) ¼41.00, p<.001 (partial g
2
¼21.1%).
Communication Research Reports 189
Downloaded By: [Bloomsburg University] At: 15:51 30 April 2010
have been confused as a cute–flippant line. This would explain the negative response
elicited by this opening line. In retrospect, manipulation checks should have been
included with the questionnaire to be certain that the messages used were perceived
by the audience as representative of the meta-strategies for which they were intended.
Obviously, this is a significant limitation to this study.
Another limitation to this investigation was that only one videoand, therefore,
one opening linewas used to represent each strategy. Before researchers can make
generalizations as to which class of opening lines is most effective, it is necessary to
examine multiple messages representing each major strategy type. This might also
help to clarify if the humor attempt failed because humor is simply an ineffective
strategy or because the line used in the scenario was not funny. Future research
should test this possibility. Despite such limitations, however, results of this study
suggest that single men would be well-advised to consider using sponsorship from
third parties to initiate flirtatious conversation with women. If third-party sponsor-
ship is unavailable, men should consider using direct introduction opening lines and
should avoid using direct compliments, humor attempts and cute–flippant lines.
References
Abbey, A. (1987). Misperceptions of friendly behavior as sexual interest: A survey of naturally
occurring incidents. Psychology of Women Quarterly,11, 173–194.
Abbey, A., & Melby, C. (1986). The effect of nonverbal cues on gender differences in perceptions of
sexual intent. Sex Roles,15, 283–298.
Abrahams, M. F. (1994). Perceiving flirtatious communication: An exploration of the perceptual
dimensions underlying judgments of flirtatiousness. Journal of Sex Research,31, 283–292.
Canary, D. J., & Spitzberg, D. H. (1987). Appropriateness and effectiveness perceptions of conflict
strategies. Human Communication Research,14, 93–118.
Canary, D. J., & Spitzberg, D. H. (1989). A model of perceived competence of conflict strategies.
Human Communication Research,15, 630–649.
Clark, C. L., Shaver, P. R., & Abrahams, M. F. (1999). Strategic behaviors in romantic relationship
initiation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,25, 709–722.
Cunningham, M. R. (1989). Reactions to heterosexual opening gambits: Female selectivity and male
responsiveness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,15, 27–41.
Egland, K. L., Spitzberg, B. H., & Zormeier, M. M. (1996). Flirtation and conversational competence
in cross-sex platonic and romantic relationships. Communication Reports,9, 105–117.
Gass, R. H., & Seiter, J. S. (1999). Persuasion, social influence, and compliance gaining. Boston:
Allyn & Bacon.
Hatcher, L. (1994). A step by step approach to using the SAS system for factor analysis and structural
equation modeling. Cary, NC: SAS Institute Inc.
Henningsen, D. D. (2004). Flirting with meaning: An examination of miscommunication in flirting
interactions. Sex Roles,50, 481–489.
Khattree, R., & Naik, N. N. (2000). Multivariate data reduction and discrimination with SAS soft-
ware. Cary, NC: SAS Institute Inc.
Kleinke, C. L., Meeker, F. B., & Staneski, R. A. (1986). Preference for opening lines: Comparing
ratings by men and women. Sex Roles,15, 585–600.
Koeppel, L. B., Montage-Miller, Y., O’Hair, D., & Cody, M. J. (1993). Friendly? Flirting? Wrong? In
P. Kalbfleisch (Ed.), Interpersonal communication: Communication in evolving relationships
(pp. 13–32). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
190 K. Weber et al.
Downloaded By: [Bloomsburg University] At: 15:51 30 April 2010
Kowalski, R. M. (1993). Inferring sexual interest from behavioral cues: Effects of gender and
sexually relevant roles. Sex Roles,29, 13–36.
La France, B. H., Henningsen, D. D., Oates, A., & Shaw, C. M. (2009). Social–sexual interactions?
Meta-analyses of sex differences in perceptions of flirtatiousness, seductiveness, and promis-
cuousness. Communication Monographs,76, 263–295.
Levine, T. R., King, G., III, & Popoola, J. K. (1994). Ethnic and gender differences in opening lines.
Communication Research Reports,11, 143–151.
McCormick, N. B., & Jones, A. J. (1989). Gender differences in nonverbal flirtation. Journal of Sex
Education and Therapy,15, 271–282.
O’Rourke, N., Hatcher, L., & Stepanski, E. J. (2005). A step by step approach to using the SAS system
for univariate and multivariate statistics. Cary, NC: SAS Institute Inc.
Parks, M. R., & Eggert, L. L. (1989). The role of social context in the dynamics of personal relation-
ships. In W. H. Jones & D. Perlman (Eds.), Advances in personal relationships (pp. 1–34).
Greenwich, CT: JAI.
Richmond, V. P., McCroskey, J. C., & Johnson, A. D. (2003). Development of the Nonverbal
Immediacy Scale (NIS): Measures of self- and other-perceived nonverbal immediacy.
Communication Quarterly,51, 502–515.
Rodgers, J. E., & Veronsky, F. (1999). Flirting fascination. Psychology Today,32, 36–46.
Rubin, R. B., Palmgreen, P., & Sypher, H. W. (1994). Communication research measures: A source-
book. New York: Guilford.
Walsh, D. G., & Hewitt, J. (1985). Giving men the come-on: Effects of eye contact and smiling in a
bar environment. Perceptual and Motor Skills,61, 873–874.
Wanzer, M. B., & Frymier, A. B. (1999). The relationship between student perceptions of instructor
humor and student’s reports of learning. Communication Education,48, 48–62.
Weber, K. D., Cayanus, J. L., & Goodboy, A. K. (2005, November). Flirtation effectiveness and
appropriateness: An experimental study of opening lines. Paper presented at the annual meeting
of the National Communication Association, Boston.
Communication Research Reports 191
Downloaded By: [Bloomsburg University] At: 15:51 30 April 2010
... Flirting conveys one's interest in a potential partner, whether it be to start a relationship, establish sexual intentions, or promote intimacy (e.g., Weber et al., 2010). Flirting entails an assortment of behaviors and styles such as being sincere, polite, or playful (Hall & Xing, 2015). ...
... Pick-up lines are one way that people may quickly and effectively engage in flirting behavior. Past studies have divided pick-up lines into direct (i.e., clearly convey interest), innocuous (i.e., to hide the intention and serve as a conversation starter), and flippant (i.e., use of humor; Kleinke et al., 1986; see also Weber et al., 2010). Flippant and innocuous pick-up lines may be used to protect the individual from rejection because they can hide a failed attempt as a question or joke (Kleinke et al., 1986). ...
... Past findings, as well as the current study, show that men rate women's pick-up lines that are direct as the most effective (Fisher et al., 2020;Kleinke & Dean, 1990;Kleinke et al., 1986;Wade et al., 2009;Weber et al., 2010). Direct lines do not obscure intent and explicitly convey interest, meaning that there is little probability of missing a mating opportunity. ...
... Such communications often tend to be covert, with the ability to create signals and to accurately receive them being key for success (e.g., White, Lorenz, Perilloux, & Lee, 2018). Flirting, including the use of pick-up lines, conveys interest in a potential partner, and communicates that one wishes to establish intimacy, to express sexual intentions, or to state relationship expectations (e.g., Weber, Goodboy, & Cayanus, 2010). Here we solely focus on one part of flirting: the use of pick-up lines. ...
... The overwhelming majority of research on pick-up lines pertains to how men commonly use them to encourage conversation with women in the hopes of securing a date (Kleinke, Meeker, & Staneski, 1986;Senko & Fyffe, 2010). There is a variety of lines one can use, which have been categorized in many ways; here we use the categories of direct, innocuous, and flippant (Kleinke et al., 1986; see also Weber et al., 2010). Direct lines clearly convey interest, for example, "You're hot, can I have your number?" ...
... Men tend to rate the flippant line users as being more likeable and promiscuous, as well as less selfish and domineering, than do women (Kleinke & Dean, 1990). Similarly, Weber et al. (2010) found that third-party and direct introductions were the most effective interaction. ...
Article
We examined which pickup lines that women may use on men, in the context of dating, are the most effective. Effectiveness was defined as success in securing a phone number or agreeing to meet again. We tested to determine which type of line (direct, innocuous, or flippant) was rated as most effective when attractiveness and perceived promiscuity of the women were manipulated. We predicted that direct pickup lines would be the most effective when trying to pickup men for the purpose of dating. We also predicted that men would rate the pickup lines used by women rated high on attractiveness and promiscuity as being more effective than the pickup lines used by those rated low on both characteristics. Results indicate that direct pickup lines are preferred over flippant or innocuous pickup lines, with the innocuous being the least preferred. Further, regardless of the line that is used, once a woman has been viewed as attractive by men, she is rated positively. This study provides insight into the effectiveness of women's tactics for soliciting dating attention.
... Despite 40 years of research on initial interactions, only a few communication studies have examined initial interactions in the romantic context (i.e., Houser, Horan & Furler, 2008;Lindsey & Zakahi, 1996;Weber, Goodboy, & Cayanus, 2010). ...
... Although a few studies have examined flirting and opening lines (e.g., Weber et al., 2010), no previous communication study examined memorable questions in such interactions. 2 Likewise, a review of psychological research reveals no previously published studies on questions in initial interactions. ...
... Although initially perceived negatively, interviewees labeled their later responses as neutral to the following questions: "Do you want to have children?", "Do you not like me because I'm black?", and "Are they [breasts] real?" Interviewees reported perceiving these questions as beyond the norms of acceptable and predictable behavior for initial interactions; they reported decoding such questions as a sign that they had lost control of events in the initial interaction. These results are consistent with Weber et al's (2010) finding that some opening lines (direct compliments, humor attempts, and cute-flippant lines) can be perceived as inappropriate in flirtatious initial interactions. "Questions can be face-threatening" (Tracy, 2002, p. 129), especially when the questioner uses questions to enact a power play (Wang, 2006). ...
Article
Full-text available
We interviewed 16 undergraduate students soliciting (a) metaphors to describe initial interactions as well as (b) memorable questions posed by attractive strangers of the opposite sex. Using thematic analysis, we discovered that the interviewees metaphorically described initial interactions in terms of time, control, sexuality, valence, and extremes. All interviewees recalled memorable questions posed by attractive strangers of the opposite sex. Our analyses indicated that typical memorable questions could be characterized as nonsexual control attempts that were perceived by the receivers as positive but extreme. Interviewees’ initial impression of memorable questions typically became more positive over time.
... The second difference lies in the time dimension, especially on the assumption of when flirting should take place. Some studies (Whitty, 2003;Downey & Vitulli, 1987;Clark, Shaver, & Abrahams, 1999;Henningsen, 2004;Weber, Goodboy, & Cayanus, 2010;Kaspar & Krull, 2013) take flirting as the initial stage of encounter between two individuals, who are assumed to have a prospect for some kind of sexual relationship. Flirting is taken to be synonymous with the attention-getting effort, which occurs at the initial stage of encounter. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
This thesis reports on an investigation into the activity of ‘flirting’ as it unfolds in the course of an interaction. Flirting, defined in the OED as “behave[ing] as though sexually attracted to someone, but playfully rather than with serious intentions”, is a social activity that is highly intriguing in that it is readily discernible, at least to members of the same community, and yet not easy to pin down. In spite of its obvious interest (at least to students of human interaction), relatively little research has been done on the phenomenon. This thesis offers for the first time a close analysis of a collection of conversational sequences in which the co-participants may be seen to be flirting. The data on which the investigation is based is in the form of a set of video recordings of naturally occurring interactions obtained from the island of Bali in Indonesia. Specifically, one particular two-party conversation about 50 minutes in length was focused upon for close, line-by-line analysis for the many flirting sequences that it contains. This study employs an Ethnomethodological approach. In particular, the methods of Conversation Analysis (CA) and Membership Categorization Analysis (MCA), both pioneered by Harvey Sacks, are used to carry out the investigation. This choice is strategically motivated. CA provides a platform to approach flirting from a sequential perspective, instead of single actions, or a simple action-reaction standpoint. MCA provides a means of explicating co-participants’ use of categories and categorization devices to construct veiled displays of sexual interest or attraction. In this thesis, an attempt is made to integrate CA and MCA in the service of unpacking the verbal and embodied resources that go into the making of turns that form the flirting sequences in the data. Our analysis of the data shows that flirting can be characterized as an affiliative joint activity which is achieved through a combination of overt displays of humour and playfulness and embedded displays of sexual interest or attraction. Displays of sexual interest or attraction are ‘embedded’ in the sense that flirting-relevant elements are usually ‘buried’ in actions which are otherwise ‘natural’ and ‘unremarkable’ in an ongoing sequence, e.g., as normal next to a prior. Turn by turn the participants reciprocate displays of sexual interest, while topicalising materials that have a distinct (non-sexual) orientation. An examination of the flirting sequences in the data reveals that flirting-relevant elements may be attended to and developed into flirting sequences in one of two main ways. The first is one in which one of the participants issues, what may be called, a ‘flirting invitation’. In the following turn, the interlocutor may respond in a variety of ways, from providing a clear uptake or a non-verbal appreciative token (e.g., a smile) to disattention or reprimand. When the two latter options occur, this may lead to a termination of the flirting. In the other method, an apparently innocuous element in a prior turn is ‘picked up’ and turned retrospectively into a flirting-relevant component which is then used to ‘grow’ a flirtatious sequence. When this happens, we may speak of sexual or romantic innuendo ‘creeping into’ an interaction, or flirtatiousness entered in stepwise manner in an interaction. Attending to membership categorization allows us to appreciate the many ways in which ‘gender’ is used as a category device in the data. A close analysis of the use of gender (as a categorization device) in the data reveals an interesting asymmetry between the two participants, in their perception and treatment of each other. While there is a preponderance of ‘gender’ in the male participant’s turns (where flirting is a relevant activity), the female participant hardly if at all uses ‘gender’ in her flirting. When she does assign categories to her male interlocutor, categorization devices other than gender will be used, e.g., occupation. The data shows that while flirting can be ‘fun’, it may on occasion also carry with it a dubious or unpleasant undertone, where the female participant is treated by her interlocutor in a potentially derogatory way
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we examine a selection of dialogues from the film "The big sleep" (1946), with special attention devoted to those of a flirtatious nature. The chief purpose of the account is to suggest that verbal flirtation may be interpreted as a phenomenon resulting from the working of two conceptual processes, namely metaphor and metonymy as well as their interaction.
Article
Online dating is more popular than ever, and Tinder has established a new platform for online daters to communicate. The current study examined how dating profiles and pick-up lines influenced young heterosexual adults' dating intention on Tinder. The study recruited a total of 237 young heterosexual adults to participate in a 2 (profile gender) x 2 (message humor) x 2 (message compliment) online experiment. In the experiment, participants viewed a Tinder profile of their opposite sex and one of the four manipulated pick-up lines. The results showed that perceived attractiveness and perceived positive attributes (e.g., kindness, intelligence) of the person in the dating profile were significant predictors of both long-term and short-term dating intentions in the overall sample. Among men, the dating profile's perceived attractiveness was the sole predictor of long-term and short-term dating intentions. The dating profile's perceived positive attributes were a significant predictor of both long-term and short-term dating intentions among women. More importantly, message humor and message compliment had significant interaction effects on both long-term and short-term dating intentions among women. We discuss the contributions and implications to research on online dating research, evolutionary social psychology, and hyperpersonal perspective.
Book
Full-text available
Love and Electronic Affection: A Design Primer brings together thought leadership in romance and affection games to explain the past, present, and possible future of affection play in games. The authors apply a combination of game analysis and design experience in affection play for both digital and analog games. The research and recommendations are intersectional in nature, considering how love and affection in games is a product of both player and designer age, race, class, gender, and more. The book combines game studies with game design to offer a foundation for incorporating affection into playable experiences. The text is organized into two sections. The first section covers the patterns and practice of love and affection in games, explaining the patterns and practice. The second section offers case studies from which designers can learn through example. Love and Electronic Affection: A Design Primer is a resource for exploring how digital relationships are offered and how to convey emotion and depth in a variety of virtual worlds. This book provides: • A catalog of existing digital and analog games for which love and affection are a primary or secondary focus. • A catalog of the uses of affection in games, to add depth and investment in both human-computer and player-to-player engagement. • Perspective on affection game analyses and design, using case studies that consider the relationship of culture and affection as portrayed in games from large scale studios to single author independent games. • Analysis and design recommendations for incorporating affection in games beyond romance, toward parental love, affection between friends, and other relationships. • Analysis of the moral and philosophical considerations for historical and planned development of love and affection in human–computer interaction. • An intersectionality informed set of scholarly perspectives from the Americas, Eurasia, and Oceania.
Article
Full-text available
This study examines how strategic communication is linked to specific relational features. We hypothesize that perceptions of a communicator's competence mediate the effects of conflict strategies on the relational outcomes measured by trust, control mutuality, intimacy, and satisfaction. The components of competence were specific and general appropriateness, effectiveness, and global competence; these were included in LISREL analyses to investigate How the variables conflict, competence, and relational outcomes were linked. Participants reported on their partners’ conflict strategies, their own perceptions of the partner's competence, and relational variables. The results reveal that integrative strategies were positively linked to competence, whereas distributive and avoidant strategies were negatively linked to competence. The results support the view that competence perceptions mediate the link between conflict messages and relational outcomes.
Article
Full-text available
The use of humor in the classroom has been investigated using a variety of humor operationalizations and methodologies with mixed results. In the present study we examine the role of teacher humor orientation rather than specific humorous behaviors. The relationship between perceived teacher humor orientation and learning was the focus of this study. Results indicated that a high humor orientation (HO) was associated with increased student perceptions of learning. Perceived teacher humor orientation was also examined in relation to nonverbal immediacy and socio‐communicative style. Additionally, we examined the interaction between teacher humor orientation and student humor orientation on learning. It was found that high HO students reported learning more with a high HO teacher.
Article
Two studies were conducted to examine the strategies used to initiate romantic relationships. In Study 1, participants responded to questions about general romantic relationship initiation strategies derived from the literature. In Study 2, participants wrote narrative accounts of their romantic relationship initiation experiences, which were coded for relationship goals and initiation strategies. The effect of biological sex on the evaluation and use of relationship initiation strategies was assessed in both studies. Overall, the normative pattern of goals and strategies prominently included love and intimacy goals and direct and emotional-disclosure strategies. Men tended to be more active and direct in the beginning stages of relational development and to be more interested than women in the goal of sexual intimacy; women used passive and indirect strategies more often than men. Results are discussed in terms of Buss and Schmitt’s sexual strategies theory and Reis and Shaver’s model of interpersonal intimacy.
Article
Gender-related responses to opening conversational gambits were examined in two field and one laboratory experiment. In Experiment 1, a male approached female singles bar patrons, using one of six opening lines, classified as direct, innocuous, or cute-flippant. The cute-flippant lines were found to elicit significantly more negative responses than did the direct and innocuous lines. In Experiment 2, male and female experimenters delivered direct, innocuous, and cute-flippant lines to opposite-sex bar patrons. The experimenters also touched half of the subjects while delivering the opening lines. Female subjects again responded more negatively to the cute-flippant approaches compared to the direct and innocuous gambits. Male subjects displayed significantly more positive responses than did female subjects, regardless of the opening gambit. Interpersonal touch had no significant effect on heterosexual responses. A third, laboratory experiment examined whether gender differences in personality inference processes or in mindlessness could account for female discernment and male responsiveness. Males responded more positively than did the females to the two cute-flippant, the two direct, and one of the innocuous lines and made more positive personality attributions about the individuals who delivered them, suggesting that the genders differ in their attributions in this domain. Although both males and females were influenced by the perceived sociability of the target, judgments of sexiness were closely related to males' interest in the female target but not to females' interest in the male. Females, in contrast were more influenced by the male targets' perceived brightness than by their sexiness.
Article
Perceptual dimensions underlying flirtatiousness judgments were examined in a three‐phased study. This study was conducted to answer the following research questions: (a) What perceptual dimensions underlie flirtatiousness judgments? (b) Do men and women use similar perceptual dimensions in assessing flirtatiousness? and (c) Do men and women vary in the degree to which they employ these perceptual dimensions in making their judgments? Based on an INDSCAL procedure and regression analyses completed on the sorting data of 94 participants (47 men and 47 women), six perceptual dimensions underlying flirtatiousness judgments were found: sexual assertiveness, overtness, invitation, playfulness, nonverbalness, and unconventionality. Additionally, men and women used identical dimensions in assessing the flirtatiousness of the episodes employed as stimuli. With a slight exception for perceptions of invitation, men and women judged the flirtation episodes similarly on the uncovered dimensions. The practical and theoretical implications of these results are discussed.
Article
In recent years nonverbal immediacy has received considerable attention from researchers concerned with instructional communication, interpersonal communication, and organizational communication. Unfortunately, the instruments used to measure nonverbal immediacy in these contexts sometimes have been problematic in terms of their reliability estimates. This research attempted to overcome this problem, or failing that, to identify the cause(s) of the reduced reliability. The research resulted in a scale with high reliability when used as either a self‐report or an other‐report measure. It was also found to be equally reliable across the contexts of instructional, interpersonal, and organizational communication. Content validity of the scale is good and an initial test of predictive validity produced a high validity correlation. Unexpected sex differences were observed in the results and these are discussed in this report.
Article
The studies described in this article examine retrospective reports of naturally occurring misperceptions of friendliness as sexual interest. Previous research has demonstrated that men perceive other people and situations more sexually than women do. The purpose of this research was to examine how this gender difference in perceptions of sexuality is exhibited in actual interactions between women and men. Two surveys of undergraduates were conducted. The results indicated that a large percentage of both women and men had experienced such misperceptions, although more women had than men. Most of these incidents were quickly resolved without problems; however, others involved some degree of forced sexual activity and left the individual feeling angry, humiliated, and depressed. Gender differences in the characteristics of these incidents and reactions to them are described. The implications of these findings for future research on gender differences in perceptions of sexual intent are discussed.