Is He Flirting with You? There's an App for That

flirtingFor all of you singles out there — imagine meeting someone at, let’s say, a bookstore.  The conversation is going well and you think, maybe, you’re catching a flirty vibe.  You pull out your iPhone and take a quick peek at your Flirt App, which is blinking a bright yellow 93%. Yes!  It’s on!

Believe it or not, that’s going to happen sooner than you think thanks to a new technology taking shape at Stanford University.

Computer scientist Rajesh Ranganath and his colleagues developed a flirtation-detection machine that — based on prosodic (meaning: structure of verse), dialogue, and lexical clues — can detect a speaker’s intent to flirt with up to 75 % accuracy.

In contrast, without the machine men were only 56.2 % accurate when assessing if their date was flirting with them, and women were only 62.2 % accurate. Results were uncovered during a research study(PDF) by testing the machine’s analysis against the self-reported intentions and perceptions of men and women on a speed date.

Courtesy of author Jena Pincott’s excellent blog, here are a few of the study’s main findings:

When flirting, men ask more questions, use more “you” and “we,” laugh more, and use more sexual, anger, and negative-emotional words. They also speak faster, with higher pitch, but with a softer voice.

When flirting, women use more “I” and less “we;” have an expanded pitch range, laugh more, use repair questions (Excuse me?) but not other kinds of questions; use more sexual terms; use far less appreciation terms (Wow, That’s true, Oh, great) and backchannels (Uh-huh, Yeah, Right, Oh, okay.); and use more words in general than men.

Both genders convey intended flirtation by laughing more, speaking faster, and using higher pitch.


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