A little bit of flirting appears to go a long way for men who are perhaps not the politest of the bunch.
A new study has revealed that women are prepared to overlook men’s more antisocial aspects if they flirt with them.
Men who appeared the most flirtatious were rated as more attractive even if they were antisocial, it found. But there is a limit, according to the study in today’s New Scientist, because it only works for women looking for a fling.
Those looking for a more long-term relationship placed more importance on the men’s behaviour, it found. Psychologist Dr Clark from the University of Bristol, who conducted the study with other experts, said: "Anti-social men can make up a lot of ground just by being flirtatious."
The researchers decided that most images used to gauge attractiveness are static despite the fact that when people meet, they are not interacting with things that don’t move. They therefore decided to look at facial movements as a source of information about potential mates.
To test their importance, the team filmed the faces of 28 men as they talked then removed the soundtrack and made wireframe animations of each face, as well as standardising the shape.
The animations were randomly paired with a written pro-social statement like "I really enjoy helping old people" or antisocial ones like "old people bore me" and shown to women.
The women were then asked to rate the men’s attractiveness in the context of a fling or a long-term relationship.
In general, they were found to prefer the men who made pro-social comments but it depended what sort of relationship they were looking for.
For those more interested in a fling, the men who appeared most flirtatious were rated as more attractive.
This was the case even if they were paired with an anti-social statement.
Dr Clark said a flirtatious man shows vigour and social confidence, both of which show he may have good genes.
It could also show they were more interested in sex, he said, and this is one reason why women who want a short term relationship might pay more attention to flirting.
He said: "I don’t think women like bastards. I think anti-social men who behave flirtatiously are either fooling women into thinking they are not so bad, or they’re actually demonstrating that they are not so bad."