Gender Role and Flirting Techniques

Is Gender Role Ideology Predictive of Flirting Techniques? - Jenn Clark, Flora Oswald, Kailie Brown, Jaylynn Henry, Hannah Jacobs, Cassandra Hesse, & Cory L. Pedersen

Nonverbal, sexually motivated courtship behaviours (flirting) are fascinating phenomena that have been examined across several disciplines. Hall et al. (2010) identified several different types of flirting that vary in communication style, functionality, and motivation – highlighting the individual nature of flirting.  Moore (2010) suggested that flirting varies culturally – with some flirting behaviors represented globally (e.g., eye-gaze), and others restricted to Western ideological paradigms (e.g., touch).  VanderMolen (2013) examined flirting and sexual orientation to report that while straight males and females did not differ in their endorsement of flirting style, gay and lesbian participants did.  VanderMolen hypothesized this difference to be due in part to gay and lesbian individuals adopting a gender-role ideology atypical of that assumed by straight men and women, but never investigated this hypothesis further.  Indeed, a paucity of literature on the influence of gender-role ideology in courtship behaviour suggests an opportunity for further research.  The present study addressed this oversight by evaluating whether flirting techniques can be predicted by gender-role ideology endorsement, above and beyond that predicted by sexual orientation or gender alone.


Participants were directed to an online survey to complete measures of demographics and two scales regarding flirting technique and flirting frequency – both designed for the purposes of this study. Participants then completed two measures of gender-role ideology; the Gender-Role Ideology Scale (Kerr & Holden, 1996) and the Traditional Masculinity-Femininity Scale (TMF; Kachel, Steffens, & Niedlich, 2016).

Results of a hierarchical regression analysis suggest that gender-role ideology and self-identified masculinity-femininity accounted for the majority of variance in flirting strategies, relative to that accounted for by either gender or sexual orientation alone.


Gender-role ideology influences many of our social behaviours, including courtship. Our sexual behaviours are often understood as being developed through our biology rather than through our socialization. This study illustrates that gender role-ideology is more predictive of our flirting styles than either gender or sexual orientation, from which we can infer the importance of socialization to the sexual self.

Oral presentation delivered at the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, Montreal QC, 2018.

© A.P. 2017 for O.R.G.A.S.M Research Lab