A follow-up questionnaire suggested that such workplace flirts had lower levels of "emotional intelligence", or understanding of other people’s feelings or even sensitivity.
The second study, but not the first, also indicated that women who flirted at work were happier at their jobs but researchers said the result could have been a fluke. Psychologists from Surrey University set out to test the theory that flirting could improve people’s chances of being promoted at work.
Adrian Banks, who led the study, said: “What we found was the complete opposite. Flirts don’t perform better at work and men who flirt are less satisfied with their jobs. There is strong evidence against that notion that you can flirt your way to the top.”
The researchers then carried out a second survey to establish whether men who flirted at work were different from their peers in any way. Flirtier men had lower levels of emotional intelligence, they found, meaning the men were worse at understanding other people’s emotions and controlling their own feelings.
This could have meant that they were less able to suppress flirtatious behaviour or judge whether their actions were inappropriate, Banks suggested. Although it was unclear why flirty men had less job satisfaction, one explanation could be that their behaviour was tied down to boredom, he Banks added.