The Science of Flirting: Being a H.O.T. A.P.E. | Jean Smith | TEDxLSHTM


Translator: Queenie Lee
Reviewer: Ivana Korom Let me ask you something. Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve asked yourself
the following question: is this person, is this person
flirting with me? Picture the scene:
you’re at a friend’s party. You sashay into the kitchen because we all know
that’s where the fun is. And you see an attractive stranger getting a drink refill from a box of wine. Your friend’s a student. And so you get a drink refill, and you say something hilarious
to the attractive stranger. Attractive stranger laughs. Good for you. And then for the next few minutes there’s some eye contact, more talking. But then after a few minutes you start thinking,
‘Is this person flirting with me?’ Sound familiar, anyone? See the person sitting next to you,
it’s happened to them. The person in front of you,
it’s happened to them. You see this is a universal conundrum. But no more! Because in the next ten minutes I’m going to tell you
the signs of flirting and never again will you wonder:
is this person flirting with me? I’m Jean Smith. I’m a social anthropologist
who studies flirting, a flirtologist, if you will. Now, as a flirtologist, I do research,
I write books, I give talks. And I work with clients
both private and corporate, all with the goal of helping people
to become better flirts. So I can see some of you
sitting there, you’re thinking, ‘Really!? Is this necessary?
I mean teaching people how to flirt?’ Yes. (Laughter) Yes, it is. I’ve been doing this for over a decade. And if the question – is this person flirting with me –
was popular then, it’s now everyone-wants-
to-take-it-to-prom popular because over the last decade the way that we flirt
has changed dramatically. People are relying more and more
on digital ways of communicating. But let’s face it, an emoji with its tongue sticking out, it’s only going to get you so far. At some point, you’re going
to have to meet in person. Unless of course, you’re a Japanese male, and in that case, you could go on to marry
your video game girlfriend: Rinko. So as part of my quest
to help people become better flirts, I did research. I went to the cities of London,
New York, Paris and Stockholm, and I researched the flirting behaviour
of its inhabitants. And I found there were six things
that they all had in common. Six ways that they could signal
they were flirting and understood when someone
was flirting with them. And I teach this as H.O.T.-A.P.E. (Laughter) It’s the six signs – it’s an acronym
for the six signs of flirting. So what if I were to say to you:
‘You must be a parking ticket because you’ve got “fine”
written all over you.’ Would you laugh? Well, ‘H’ is for humour. Raise your hand
if you thought my joke was funny. Go ahead, don’t be shy. OK, everyone with their hands up, I would totally date you. (Laughter) Well, if my husband
weren’t such a control freak. But anyway, if you
didn’t raise your hands, it’s not a good match. It’s just not going to work between us. But it’s me, not you. But this is a good thing because HOTAPE-ing people – it takes time. Does anyone here
like reading a good novel, watching an interesting TED talk? Does anyone here like test cricket? These things also take time,
especially test cricket, five days? And this is where people
often get it wrong because they want to attract everybody. But no, you just want
to attract those people who match with you. And that’s why humour, specifically a shared sense of humour, is really important
for helping you to differentiate between your potential HOT-APEs
and squirrel monkeys. I mean, yeah, they’re cute. I’m sure they have a great personality. But at the end of the day
it’s a squirrel monkey. It’s no HOT-APE. So ‘O’ is for open body language. Three things to remember. Number one, don’t do this. I know some of you are guilty of this. I’ve heard it all before, oh, but I’m cold, or, this is comfortable. OK, whiny voice aside, in which instance do you want to HOT-APE me more? Like this? Or like this, right? Not HOT-APE. HOT-APE. Number two: make sure your shoulders
are facing the person. So not HOT-APE, not HOT-APE, still not HOT-APE. HOT-APE. Not HOT-APE. HOT-APE. Now, the third,
this is the most important, and I’m only telling you guys. This is a really good one. To see if someone’s interested, look at the direction
in which their feet are pointing. So if their feet
are pointing at you, a good sign. If they’re kind of out to the side, it means they’re planning
their escape route. The further away our limbs
are from our brain, the harder it is for us to control them. So, Shakira, I know you say:
the hips don’t lie, but the flirtologist is here
to say the feet don’t lie. ‘T’ is for touch. Like humour, touch also has a positive
physiological response on our body. Now as a general rule, shoulder –
it’s a safe place to touch. But as you go down the arm
towards the hands, the touch gets more intimate. That’s why I recommend everyone
should kind of tap the hand and say something like: ‘Oh, you’re so funny’, people seem to love that stuff. Oh, another place
that would be nice to touch would be just here at the top of the back
between the shoulder blades, perhaps if you’re passing by,
you can give a light touch. Now, of all of the flirting signs, people seem to be wariest
about using touch. As one of my clients said, ‘Well, the other signs
you can get away with. But when it comes to touch,
you’re culpable.’ But touch can get you
out of the friend zone, and it can also show someone
that you’re interested. And as long as you remember, I like test cricket, it lasts five days, I don’t have time
to HOT-APE with everyone, then if the person
doesn’t respond positively, you can try someone else. ‘A’ is for attention. This one might seem obvious. The more attention someone is paying you,
the more they like you. But the problem is
once you are in the interaction, it’s really hard to be objective. Which is why in anthropology,
we have a methodology, it’s called participant observation. And I think this could be a really
useful tool for you to use in flirting. It means that you’re participating,
you’re in the interaction, but you’re not so in it
that you can’t observe. So if you were to, for example, touch and say something
and see the other person blushed, it means that you’re not so self-conscious that you can’t observe the effect
that you’re having on the other person. And that my friends
is when the flirting gets really fun. ‘P’ is for proximity. Now proximity was used in two ways. The first, if you see someone
across the room and then all of a sudden
they’re next to your side, this is not a coincidence. It means they like what they see
and they must explore further. The other way proximity was used is when you’re actually
in the interaction, they’re standing closer than usual. So if you’re attracted, great. If you’re not, they’re in your space. So the last of the flirting signs
is the most important. Can anyone guess what it is? Thank you. It’s eye contact. This was the number one way that people could understand someone
who’s flirting with them and the difference
between friendly and flirting. So in flirting eye-contact
the gaze happened more often. It was held for a longer amount of time, and it was more intense. So using these signs: humour, open body language, touch,
attention, proximity, eye contact, you can recognize
when someone is flirting with you. And as a general rule,
the more signs the better. Now my favourite story of HOT-APE
being used in the field was relayed to me by one of my clients. She had shared HOT-APE
with all of her friends. And one night, they went out
HOTAPE-ing guys. One of her friends was making
eye contact with a guy at the bar, and she went over and spoke with him. She came back a few minutes later, bit dejected, my client said, ‘What happened? What happened?’
And she’s like, ‘Oh nothing.’ ‘Well, did you HOT-APE him?’
She’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ And then they started
going through the sides: ‘Did you use humour?’
She’s like ‘Yeah, yeah.’ ‘What about open body language?
You didn’t do this like you usually do?’ ‘No, no.’ ‘What about touch?
Did you touch him? Back, hand.’ ‘Uh, God, I didn’t use touch.’ And then they started laughing,
like, ‘Well, no wonder.’ And what normally could have been
a situation of dejection or, you know, feeling bad, it just turned into a fun game. And this is the power of HOTAPE because it turns flirting
into what it should be. It’s something fun, easy,
it’s not a big deal. And when we think
about flirting like this, it totally changes
our paradigm of rejection. And in situations where we’re often
feeling self-conscious or a bit nervous, we have scientific tools
to help us remember what to do. And finally, it makes it’s not about us, it’s a checklist; it’s a task. It’s things to do rather than
how we often see flirting which is a stranger’s
evaluation of our worth. So now you know the signs of flirting, and I encourage you to not just
recognize but be proactive, because these signs also use
for you to express interest. And this is my challenge to you: forget about the game,
forget about the rules, be genuine. Take action and go HOTAPE someone. Thank you. (Applause) Thank you.

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