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Courtship Signaling and Adolescents: "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"?

Monica M. Moore
The Journal of Sex Research
Vol. 32, No. 4 (1995), pp. 319-328
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3813356
Page Count: 10
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Courtship Signaling and Adolescents:
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Abstract

Ethological researchers have demonstrated that during courtship, women exhibit a constellation of subtle facial expressions and gestures commonly labeled flirting. According to the tenets of evolutionary psychology, women are expected to use nondirect tactics to signal interest in a potential partner because their greater investment in the outcome requires the selection of a partner more willing to invest resources in the relationship. Such tactics may require experience to refine signaling effectiveness. In the current research, I attempted to uncover evidence for developmental differences in courtship behavior by using field methodology. Adolescent girls were covertly observed in mixed-gender settings to document the number and type of facial expressions and gestures used to indicate interest in boys. These data were compared to similar work done with women in the construction of a catalog of nonverbal courtship signals. The results showed girls used many of the same signals commonly exhibited by women in earlier studies. There were, however, striking differences, such as the more frequent use of play or teasing behavior and the exaggerated form of many signals. These findings help to explain the process through which women acquire and refine the nonverbal behaviors used in courtship.

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