Karl Grammer, Kirsten Kruck, Astrid Juette and Bernhard Fink

Non-verbal behavior as courtship signals: The role of control and choice in selecting partners

Evolution and Human Behavior

In this work, we provide evidence based on direct observation of behavior in encounters of opposite-sexed strangers, that women initiate and “control” the outcome. In the first minute of these videotaped 10-min interactions, neither female “solicitation” behavior nor “negative” behavior is strongly related to professed interest in the man, while female “affirmative” behavior at this stage modulates male verbal output in later stages (4–10 min). Although the rate of female courtship-like behavior is significantly higher in the first minute, it is only in the fourth to tenth minute that the rate of female courtship-like behavior is correlated with professed female interest. We hypothesize that this serves as a strategic dynamic reflecting sexual asymmetry in parental investment and the potential cost of male deception to women. Ambiguous protean behavioral strategies veil individuals' intentions and make their future actions unpredictable. These behavioral strategies may result in men's overestimation of female sexual interest.