Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Science of Romance: Why We Flirt


Why do we flirt?

As I watched the movie late this afternoon, I came to wonder why people flirt.I have read in a magazine that only two very specific types of people flirt: those who are single and those who are married.

Single people flirt because, well, they're single and therefore nobody is really contractually obliged to talk to them, sleep with them or scratch that difficult-to-reach part of the back. But married people, they're a they're a tougher puzzle. They've found themselves a suitable--maybe even superior--mate, had a bit of productive fun with the old gametes and ensured that at least some of their genes are carried into the next generation. They've done their duty, evolutionarily speaking.

Ooppss...And before you claim, whether you are single or married, that you never flirt, bear in mind that it's not just talk we're dealing with here. It's also gestures, stance,and eye movement. Notice how you lean forward to the person you're talking to and tip up your heels? Notice the quick little eyebrow raise you make, the sidelong glance coupled with the weak smile you give, the slightly sustained gaze you offer?

If you're a woman, do you feel your head tilting to the side a bit, exposing either your soft, sensuous neck or, looking at it another way, your jugular? If you're a guy, are you keeping your body in an open, come-on-attack-me position, arms positioned to draw the eye to your impressive lower abdomen?

Scientists call all these little acts "contact-readiness" cues, because they indicate, nonverbally, that you're prepared for physical engagement. (More general body language is known as "nonverbal leakage." Deep in their souls, all scientists are poets.) These cues are a crucial part of what's known in human-ethology circles as the "heterosexual relationship initiation process" and elsewhere, often on the selfsame college campuses, as "coming on to someone."

Belinda Luscumbe quoted that
"One of the reasons we flirt in this way is that we can’t help it. We’re programmed to do it, whether by biology or culture".


Flirting sometimes becomes a social fallback position. "We all learn rules for how to behave in certain situations, and this makes it easier for people to know how to act, even when nervous," says Antonia Abbey, a psychology professor at Wayne State University. Just as we learn a kind of script for how to behave in a restaurant or at a business meeting, she suggests, we learn a script for talking to the opposite sex. "We often enact these scripts without even thinking," she says.

"For some women and men, the script may be so well learned that flirting is a comfortable strategy for interacting with others." In other words, when in doubt, we flirt.

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1 Comments:

At June 24, 2008 at 1:04 PM, Blogger Jeanne said...

would you like to join 7 continent tag?

 

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