Recently, I stumbled upon an article about a scientific study done on men’s ability to judge a woman’s sexual interest in them. Unsurprisingly to anyone who has any experience with human social interactions (and I’m sure to 100% of women), men are often not very good at this.
I took the associated 6-question quiz, and my results were:
- 4 Correct
- 2 Incorrect
I was Correct on the Extremely Rejecting, Rejecting, and Somewhat Rejecting, and Extremely Interested examples. So I can apparently tell pretty effectively when women either aren’t interested or are very obviously interested.
I was Incorrect on the 2 Interested examples. I selected only Somewhat Interested in both cases. I consistently underestimated the interest of women whose body language wasn’t projecting sexual interest in the most obvious ways.
This wasn’t surprising to women who know me, I’m sure. Nor would it be surprising to my more astute male friends. And it definitely wasn’t surprising to me, because it’s exactly what I want to happen.
I intentionally assume that women aren’t sexually interested in me unless good evidence accumulates over time that they obviously are sexually interested in me. Why would I do that?
Because the set of facial expressions and body language that are associated with the Somewhat Interested and Interested categories in the quiz are functionally indistinguishable from the facial expressions and body language that accompany non-sexual friendliness.
I simply cannot tell the difference between a woman being very pleasant and friendly because she just generally enjoys my company without having any sexual interest in me…and a woman exhibiting most of the same behaviors who actually is sexually interested in me.
There are subtle verbal clues that can help with telling the difference, but facial expression and body language can’t solve that riddle by themselves. What understanding facial expression and body language can do is prevent misunderstandings before a man spends 10 minutes talking to a woman who just isn’t interested in him at all.
Though this quiz could be helpful in teaching men that a lack of a smile, crossed legs, and crossed arms or hands on hips accompanied by a frown and raised eyebrows are good signs that she is not interested in you and would prefer that you go away, it won’t teach men how to navigate the verbal cues that are so necessary to getting a more accurate sense of whether or not a woman is romantically interested in them.
Maybe that requires a different quiz. If someone wants to design such a quiz, I think it could be very useful. My experience is that men definitely need to be systematically taught to understand women, and vice versa.
It might not hurt to teach young men these basic things in middle school. It could really save both young men and young women a lot of trouble.