Science, Science and Society

5 ways to gain a lover

Yes, it is a shameful, shameful misappropriation of a great song, but I couldn’t help myself.

peacock feather

Not even a little bit.

And seriously, there are, apparently, five different styles of flirting.  An ‘inventory’*, if you will.  And what, pray (or, possibly, prey) are they?  Read on, dear reader!


This is based very much in traditional gender roles.  You know, where the men make the first move, and women don’t pursue men.  This means that women (who’re more passive) are less flattered by flirting, and also find it more difficult to get men’s attention.  Men, on the other hand, tend to know women longer before approaching them.  So, basically, all quite introverted.


This is based very much on sexual attraction, and communicating that interest.  Relationships formed as a result tend to be formed more quickly, and have greater emotional and sexual chemistry than some others.


This is all about, well, sincerity.  So it focuses on the creation of emotional connections, and on demonstrating sincere interest in the other person.  Women tend to score higher here, but both men and women think it’s a good way to go about things, and relationships tend to be meaningful,and have good chemistry.


This is mostly flirting for the sake of flirting.  People using this style tend not to have any interest in long-term/important relationships (and so tend not to), but do it because they find it fun and it enhances their self-esteem.


This is very much about being proper and polite.  While sexual flirting is, obviously, not high on the agenda, and people who use this style tend to approach those they like less often, they also tend to form meaningful relationships with people.

The researchers in question looked at over 5,000 people, and were able to discern these five primary categories.  They also found that the physical, sincere and playful styles tended to have more success date-wise, and the physical and sincere styles “correlated with rapid relational escalation of important relationships with more emotional connection and greater physical chemistry” (i.e. they tended to get more serious, faster).

Further, the idea is something like this - your flirting style will probably be influenced by previous relationships of yours.  Being aware of your style could, potentially, help you avoid some of the pitfalls inherent in what the paper so charmingly calls ‘courtship initiation’.  Which can only be a good thing, right?

And in case you’re curious, you can go here to find out what your style is.  I did (although I’m a little unconvinced of the results)…


* Their word.  Not mine :)



Jeffrey A. Hall, Steve Carter, Michael J. Cody, & Julie M. Albright (2010). Individual Differences in the Communication of Romantic Interest: Development of the Flirting Styles Inventory Communication Quarterly : 10.1080/01463373.2010.524874

  • Michael Edmonds

    How nice of the test to assume everyone is heterosexual.

    It seems like a rather simplistic approach to flirting, I’m not convinced of my results. My scores were pretty much equal across the categories.

    • Aimee Whitcroft

      Yeah, I’m not certain either how accurate it is - hence posting it up for comment.

      Kinda funny, though!

  • blog

    OK so I didn’t finish the quiz I got bored, but it seemed to me it was just asking you the same 5 questions in different ways. So a quicker way to find out is to answer this: Which of these 5 styles describe you?
    a)Trad, b) Phys, c) Sincere, d) Playful e) Polite

    OK so which one did you pick?

    Hey presto there’s your answer!

    • Aimee Whitcroft

      I think that’s rather the point - the one you pick may not, in fact, be the one that the test suggests you are…