'Fertile' women are more interested in flirting

Flirtatious men have a greater chance of "pulling" when a woman is at the peak of her fertility, according to new research released today.

Evolutionary psychologist Dr Edward Morrison, of the University of Portsmouth, asked women to examine various expressions made by men and to rate their attractiveness.

He found that women who were ovulating, the most fertile period of their monthly cycle, showed an increased preference for flirtatious expressions.

Dr Morrison said an awareness of the importance of flirting could help improve a man's chances of pulling at a Christmas party.

He said: "An ability to 'read' and interpret the facial expressions and an awareness of what you are signalling with your own expressions could improve your chances of successful flirting.

"It's difficult to define what constitutes flirtatiousness and much of it may be something we perceive without even realising it.

"But it seems that in the absence of other cues, the 'social properties' of facial movement influences how we judge attractiveness.

"If we wanted to attract someone at the Christmas party, flirting effectively may help to do so."

Published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour, the study describes how researchers produced several animated facial models whose movement was based on real people.

They then standardised the images by stripping them of any other distinguishing qualities.

These were rated on a flirtatiousness scale by 16 women.

A separate group of 47 women were then asked which of the faces they found most attractive by rating them on a scale of one to seven.

In fertile phases of the menstrual cycle women consistently preferred the faces which had been categorised as more flirtatious, according to Dr Morrison.

By mapping points on the faces to measure their level of movement, researchers revealed that most of the women preferred the faces that were more animated.

But the degree of movement was not the exclusive factor, leading researchers to conclude that women recognised specific "mating-relevant" social cues.

Dr Morrison said: "It demonstrates that attractiveness is not necessarily a fixed property of the face.

"By changing the way the face moves we may be able to increase our appeal to the opposite sex."

Researchers were unable to define which exact movements led the first group of women to interpret which faces were flirting.

Dr Morrison said: "Science is still a long way from discovering the magic formula for what women find attractive in a man."

He added: "The face is where we exhibit our most explicit signals. It's the human equivalent of the peacock's tail.

"But although a smile is fairly easy to interpret, there are more subtle messages going on all the time.

"We use facial movement to interpret people's intentions, such as whether they like us or not. This allows us to allocate our mating effort appropriately.

"For example, there is little point trying to chat up a person we admire if their expression indicates they are not interested."

Dr Morrison said that the research supported previous studies which have found that women's behaviour and preferences vary during the menstrual cycle.

During the period of ovulation women prefer taller men, more masculine faces and deeper male voices.

He said: "By preferring these traits when they are more fertile, women have increased chances of passing them on to their offspring.

"Selecting the most favourable mate is one of the most fundamental aspects of human behaviour."

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Systems Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

    £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

    Year 2 Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Bognor Regis!

    £100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Year 2 Teacher currently need...

    Data Analyst / Marketing Database Analyst

    £24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits