BREAKING NEWS: Men Can Be Suckers

Jul 31 2012 Published by under [Etc]

As reported in the August 1 New Zealand Herald Online, friendly, flirty women do better in negotiations with men than those who stick to business. Acting too flirty can also backfire, making a woman appear to be a pushover. And none of this affects negotiations with other women.

The study, published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, examines several aspects of "feminine charm" mostly through the presentation of hypothetical scenarios and questionnaires. One experiment was summarized in NZHO:

In one experiment, researchers asked about 100 men and women to imagine they were selling a car worth about $1500 to a potential female buyer.

Half of the participants received a written description of a woman who flirted, looking the buyer up and down, leaning forward to touch the seller's arm, flattering and winking while asking for the best price.

The other half of those polled read an outline of a much more business-like transaction.

The investigators do not appear to have factored sexual preference of the participants into their data; study populations were small enough that such subgroup analysis would not have meaning.

As a middle-aged woman, I no longer pull off this act well; I suspect I would be punished for flirting, no matter how much skill I used. 

Any women out there think that they get stuff because they flirt? Beyond drinks in bars…

5 responses so far

  • Jordan says:

    What exactly was being measured? And did the more "business-like transaction" include non-flirty friendliness? In addition to sexual orientation, it seems like the authors should have considered that as a variable!

    • Pascale says:

      The endpoint was the price the seller would agree to for the vehicle in question. The non-flirty women were described as friendly but no touching, winking, etc.

  • theshortearedowl says:

    Also, seems to me like the men presented with the flirty written description might just have been imagining a more attractive woman? They could have controlled for that by presenting them a photo accompanying the story, and made it the same photo for each group.

    • Pascale says:

      In the best of all worlds, I would like to see the study done in role play with trained actresses. Of course, that would be more expensive on many levels (can't do it via mechanical turk on Amazon). I suspect we may see that some time in the future; this is the first scientific study to demonstrate the positive (and negative) value of "female charm."

  • D. C. Sessions says:

    Any women out there think that they get stuff because they flirt? Beyond drinks in bars…

    Second hand, but verified:

    Many years ago, I was working in the LA area for the summer and a friend was taking summer classes at UCLA. I pedalled over to visit her for the weekend, but didn't bring enough cash. So I went to a branch of the bank I had an account at to cash a check. No such luck: despite being drawn on the same bank, they wouldn't honor the check.

    So my friend told me they never gave her any trouble cashing her father's out-of-State checks despite her not having an account. I was sceptical, but she walked in and cashed MY check -- the same one they wouldn't cash for me. No problem, she said, just smile and look cute.

    I smile OK, but "cute" hasn't been in the repertoire since my first breath. No complaints, that Y chromosome gave me unfair advantages that the "smile and be cute" doesn't come near balancing.

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