We have all been in this situation before – you're in a public place hanging out with some friends, when suddenly somebody catches your eye. You go up to talk to them, while expertly using every flirting technique you have tried to master over the years: The bright smile, touching their arm, maybe even batting your eyelashes, and nothing happens. While this seems deeply personal and devastating in the moment, the good news is that you are certainly not alone.
According to a new study from the University of Kansas, men and women are both very bad at recognizing when somebody is being flirtatious. The study, lead by lead researcher Jeffrey Hall, paired up 52 college women with 52 college men and asked each grouping to talk to each other for 10 minutes. After the chats were over, each person was interviewed privately by a member of the team and asked whether or not they had flirted, and whether or not they thought their partner had.
Both the men and the women were able to determine when they were not being flirted with, as 80 percent could sense a "just friends" situation. But when it comes to actually flirting, nobody seems to be getting the message – men could only recognize the act 36 percent of the time, while women fared much worse at only 18 percent. In a press release explaining why the results of the study are what they are, Hall produced a simple theory – it is not a dominant factor in our everyday lives.
"Most people on most days are not flirting with everyone they come in contact with," Hall said. "But, some people are occasionally flirting, and maybe a few people are flirting a lot."
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