Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Flirt-deaf Men

An interesting article from the Daily Mail (H.T.:  Savvy) about how men can’t tell whether a woman is ‘flirting” or “being friendly”, commonly mistaking one signal for the other. 

The researchers also found that women overestimate men's ability to pick up on sexual signals.

They argue that many females wrongly believe that the men are well aware of their attempts to woo, but are just not interested in responding.

"Failure to pursue could be an indicator of misperception but could easily be explained by noninterest,” the scientists write in the journal Psychological Science.

In contrast, women are very aware that males get the wrong end of the stick when they are simply being friendly.

This is because, the researchers argue, men who misconstrue a friendly gesture as a come-on are more likely to follow through with inappropriate behaviour.

Such embarrassing encounters will lodge more keenly in a woman's memory, and she will also be more likely to discuss it with her friends.

Of course, this is the only time men get feedback, too.  When we make Type II errors, we generally never know it, going our way thinking our assumption that the young lady was “just being friendly” was correct.  So you can see how exclusively negative feedback would over time make us very conservative in our estimation of female attraction.

This line was funny:

"The average bloke either doesn't realise that we fancy him until we are giving birth to his children in the labour ward; or he presumes all women fancy him all the time.”

I find it comforting – and therefore suspicious – to think that those kind alpha girls were actually flirting with me back then.


Anonymous said...

I find it comforting – and therefore suspicious – to think that those kind alpha girls were actually flirting with me back then.

Ha, ha... you never know! A while back, I mentally made a list eight or nine girls long whom I now know obviously wanted me, even though I was oblivious at the time. One of them worked in the same place as me for a time... every day that she knew I was working, she used to come in wearing short skirts, made up to the nines... I thought she was just "being friendly". It's probably better in the long-term that it never went anywhere.

Anonymous said...

I have met too many flirty women who negatively reinforced that "she was just being friendly". I am a slow learner, but not that slow. Now I know better. All flirting women are just being teases or acting on their inner slut, but are not showing interest in me.

Justin said...

Is it really too much to ask women to, you know, speak their minds.... ha, apparently that is not even on the table. The poor little snowflakes require men to develop telepathy instead!

Dr. Φ said...

I wrote this post a while back, but just last week I had occasion to reflect on its themes.

I was walking about accomplishing some administrative tasks that put me in contact with several female clerks. Now, it is to be expected that the "responsiveness" (for want of a better word) of the young women with whom I come in to contact is going to vary from person to person. But on this particular day I had several interactions that I would characterize as being "noticeablly above the expected quality". Not "way way above the expected quality" mind you, just a little better eye contact, broader smiles, a little flirtiness, that kind of thing. And I also had an interaction that I would describe as "below expected quality": no eye-contact, indifferent expression, not quite sullen but in that direction.

Like I said, this kind of variation shouldn't be unexpected. But what struck me later is the difference in my internal reaction to this variation. On the one hand, as I walked away from the positive interactions, I thought vaguely to myself, "hmmm, that was weird", and didn't think much more about it. But as I walked away from the indifferent interaction, I considered it to be YET FURTHER EVIDENCE for everything I think about women and my relationship to them.

Don't get me wrong. I'm too old now to actually use this insight to update my priors. Just sayin'.