TRONDHEIM, Norway — Do women really mean it when they say they’re attracted to men with a sense of humor? Yes! In fact, a new study examining the art of flirting finds that using humor works every time — regardless of whether you’re a man or woman.
A team from Norway and the United States says that the most powerful weapon a person could have in their flirtation arsenal is the ability to make their potential partner laugh. More importantly, the team found humor worked to some degree for everyone, no matter their age, personal attractiveness, or preferences on a short-term or long-term sexual relationship.
“People think that humor, or being able to make another person laugh, is most effective for men who are looking for a long-term relationship. It’s least effective for women who are looking for a one-night stand. But laughing or giggling at the other person’s jokes is an effective flirtation tactic for both sexes,” says Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair, a professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, in a media release.
“It is not only effective to be funny, but for women it is very important that you show your potential partner that you think they are funny” adds Rebecca Burch, a co-author from SUNY Oswego.
If you’re still working on your “game” when it comes to flirting, researchers note that there are a few steps you can start with while working on your jokes.
“Smiling and eye contact are important. Then you can build your flirting skills from that base, using more advanced tactics,” Prof. Kennair says.
What exactly is flirting?
“Flirting involves different signals that people send to each other. It’s done to attract potential partners. Men and women both flirt to get the attention of a desired partner, and perhaps to achieve a sexual or romantic result from it,” Kennair explains.
“Flirting can be done verbally as well as non-verbally,” notes T. Joel Wade, a Presidential Professor of Psychology at Bucknell University.
While humor may be a universal way to attract a potential date, it’s not the only way to that person’s heart. Moreover, researchers found that a flirter’s intentions can be a major factor in whether their flirting style works or not.
“People consider signals that you’re sexually available to be the most effective for women who are looking for a short-term relationship,” Kennair reports.
However, friendly contact like hugging or a quick kiss on the cheek doesn’t work under these circumstances. Study authors say women looking for a quick fling need to clearly signal this in some way to their potential hook-up partner.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for “the one,” you’ll need to switch up your flirting tactics fast!
“Signs of generosity and a willingness to commit works best for men who are looking for a long-term relationship,” says study author Mons Bendixen from NTNU.
Flirting is an international language
Study authors surveyed close to 1,000 students from both Norway and the U.S. during this project. They each rated how effective 40 different types of flirting were depending on whether someone is seeking a short or long-term relationship and whether the flirter is a man or woman.
Interestingly, the team found that the most successful flirting tactics work in either country — proving that flirting has more to do with biology than culture.
“However, we do believe that personal characteristics affect the type of flirting people employ themselves,” Bendixen concludes.
The findings appear in the journal Evolutionary Psychology.