After more than 800 students were surveyed in experiments on flirting at California State University in Fresno, researchers came up with these interesting tidbits:
* Men use eye contact and touch more than women when flirting. They are far more suggestive, give more gifts and are more likely to initiate an interaction.
* When asked to rate effective flirting techniques, men think it's a great idea to send flowers to a woman. Yet women don't rate that as high as men do.
* Other research, Dr. Michael Botwin says, has indicated that those dreaded pick-up lines such as "Hey, baby" or "What's your momma feed you to make you look so fine?" work better than people might expect. It's not that the words themselves sway any hearts, but that so much of flirting is non-verbal. People are watching those important signals too closely to pay attention to the inanity of the phrase.
Brenda Hudson, a master's student in marriage, family and child counseling, says working on the study with Dr. Botwin opened her eyes.
"What a lot of people don't know today is what kind of message they're sending when they flirt," she says.
It helps to understand the differences in the way men and women communicate, Ms. Hudson says.
Women prefer to be spoken to in a non-direct way when they first meet a man, she says. For example, in a coin laundry, they might like to hear: "How do you use this detergent?" or "Do you need help folding your clothes?"
Yet men tend to be more direct communicators, and if they're not spoken to likewise, then they're confused, she says. "He's not clear that she's interested in actually going out. He thinks she's just being nice."
Ms. Hudson's advice to women: "You have to be more direct, and not beat around the bush and wait for him to hint."