From bars to malls, professor focuses on flirting habits

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Webster University professor Dr. Monica Moore has spent countless hours in singles bars. But she hasn't been looking for a date. Rather, she's studied the nonverbal communication of courtship between men and women.

Moore, a professor in behavior and social sciences, has made a career out of such study. More recently she's studied the flirting habits of teenage girls at swimming pools, ice skating rinks and shopping malls, the places where 13-year-old and 14-year-old girls gather with their friends on weekends.

The teen girl study was a break from the routine for Moore. "I was very tired of staying up late. I needed a break from dance clubs, the smoke, the late hours, the noise," she said.

Moore will deliver the Joseph H. Low Jr. Lecture today at Southeast Missouri State University. She will speak at 7 p.m. in Dempster Hall's Glenn Auditorium. The free event is open to the public.

Moore has researched nonverbal communication between the sexes since 1978.

After more than a thousand hours of observation, she's catalogued 52 behaviors she defines as flirtatious.

The behaviors include the hair flip, the lip lick, the pout and the coy smile. In most cases, she said, when a man approaches a woman to ask for that first dance, it's not an act of bravery. It's an act that was already approved by the woman's behavior.

As for teenage girls, they practice some of the same behaviors, only in a more exaggerated way.

The Low Lecture is financed by a donation from Mildred Low in honor of her son, who was a speech professor at Southeast from 1962 to 1998.

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