PART II – Women Use Sexual Courtship Signals To Manipulate Men – Women’s Later Sexual Signals Affects Outcome Of Courtship, Not Early Signals, Says Research
Hidden “Come On’s”
An overt “come on” is one that is strong and honest. However, should she decide, based on new information, that he doesn’t suit her, she’d have a difficult time shaking his advances. This is risky business for women. A best strategy for women might entail manipulate men directly, but without his conscious awareness and without being overt or honest. Also, should her offer be committed, he may take advantage and switch from a long-term commitment strategy to a short-term sexual fling – a cheater strategy.
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In other words, by keeping him guessing, she can control the outcome of the interaction. Ambiguity is the name of the game. Women can use nonverbal body language to set the tempo and pace of courtship to hide their goals and at the same time uncover his potential while simultaneously resolving her interest.
The Various Tactics Women Use To Control And Manipulate Courtship Outcome
When individuals wish to hide their intensions, three possible strategies arise 1) Hiding intentions (poker face strategy) 2) Tactical deception and misinformation (KGB strategy) and 3) Adaptive unpredictability (the “protean strategy”). The protean strategy was named after the Greek river god who eluded capture by continuously changing forms.
The authors of the paper in question favour the protean strategy as best theory to explain nonverbal courtship behaviours in women. Here, men and women meet in an evolutionary arms race pitted against one another with possibly mismatched desired outcomes. Women must see men fit given their increased risk so they use nonverbal communication to keep men guessing and maintain complete control over the outcome of the social interaction.
Certain predictions must follow the protean strategy. They are outlined by Grammer et. al as follows:
(1) Women, when confronted with a male stranger, will try to “control” the man’s
behavior more often than the reverse.
(2) Obvious courtship and “come on’” signals will play a role only in the later stages of an interaction when the woman has adequately assessed the man’s intentions. In the very early stages, women will show protean behavior, i.e., try to signal interest and disinterest erratically in order to veil their intentions and avoid male tendencies for deception by “blocking” the man’s mind-reading attempts.
(3) We also can assume that women will try to “control” men non-verbally, because nonverbal behavior is, unlike verbal behavior, non-binding (Grammer, 1992). As the man’s goals are unknown to the woman, there is only one possibility when meeting a male stranger: female solicitation should elicit male self-presentation.
(4) Under the pressure of male-male competition and an unknown time for interaction,
men will be forced to act in a direct and swift manner. Men should therefore use verbal self presentation in order to communicate interest in the woman.
In the current paper, the researchers had female and male strangers aged 18-23 meet for a “hidden experiment.” Upon arrival, the experiment excused himself to answer a phone call leaving the subjects in the waiting room for an unknown duration (phase I). The subjects, were being filmed via one-way mirror. After 3 minutes the experimenter returned only to tell the subjects that she’d be another 10 minutes to attend another phone call (phase II). Participants then filled out questionnaires rating each other’s physical attractiveness as well as their level of interest. They were also presented two statements “I would give my telephone number to the person present if I were asked for it.” and “I would go out to the cinema with the person if I were asked to.”
The video was encoded for nonverbal behaviour using frame-by-frame interactive coding program. The couples were coded for “courtship” signals by women as well as “negative” (rejecting) signaling and “affirmative” behaviours. In all, seventeen movements were defined as courtship or flirtatious signals.
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