Two thirds of managers did not object to workplace relationships as long as they did not impact on employees' work. Picture: Thys Dullaart

Most men and women have a difficult time detecting flirtation, new research has found.

According to a study conducted by University of Kansas professor Jeffrey Hall, author of The Five Flirting Styles, just 36 percent of men correctly identified when a woman was flirting with them.

And women were only half as likely to realise when men were coming on to them. “If you think someone is not interested in you, you are probably right, they are not interested,” Dr Hall said of the results. “But if someone is, you probably missed it.”

The study involved 52 pairs of single, heterosexual college students who were asked to chat to each other for ten to 12 minutes.

Afterwards, they filled out questionnaires in separate rooms, with one of the questions asking if they had flirted with their partner and whether they thought their partner had flirted with them.

The participants were far more accurate when it came to knowing when their partner had not been flirty; indeed, more than 80percent guessed this correctly.

But only 36 percent of men and 18 percent of women correctly guessed when they were being flirted with.

Dr Hall speculated that the disparity between the sexes is likely because women tend to be more transparent when it comes to flirtation, and not because men are more intuitive.

“It doesn't appear to be the case that men have some intuition about women and women have some intuition about men,” he said.

“But it does seem that women are just a little more clear if they are interested or not.”

In a second part of the study, more than 250 participants were asked to watch the couples interact and assess whether or not they were flirting with each other.

Again, Dr Hall found that flirting was hard to detect, with only 38 percent of spectators correctly guessing when flirting had occurred.

By contrast, two-thirds of the spectators - 66 percent - were accurate when it came to detecting when couples were not flirting with each other.

Dr Hall said the reason it's difficult to gauge when a person is flirting may be similar to the reason why it's hard to spot a liar - because most people are telling the truth most of the time.

In the same way, “most people on most days are not flirting with everyone they come in contact with,” he explained. “But some people are occasionally flirting, and maybe a few people are flirting a lot.”

The researchers said the study showed that we had to be more obvious with our flirting if we wanted the other person to notice us – and we should be “more open” to the idea somebody might like us. - Daily Mail