Men who flirt with their female colleagues do so because they are bored of their job and are lacking in sensitivity, a new study has claimed.
A survey of 200 people found that flirty men had lower levels of job satisfaction, suggesting that rather than being a sign of passion their amorous behaviour could be down to ennui.
A follow-up questionnaire suggested that men who flirted in the workplace had lower levels of “emotional intelligence”, or understanding of other people’s feelings.
The second study, but not the first, also indicated that women who flirted at work were happier in their jobs but researchers said the result could have been a fluke.
The psychologists, from Surrey University, set out to test the theory that flirting could improve people’s chances of being promoted at work.
“What we found was the complete opposite. Flirts don’t perform better at work and men who flirt are less satisfied with their jobs,” the Telegraph quoted Adrian Banks, the study leader as saying.
“There is strong evidence against that notion that you can flirt your way to the top,” banks said.
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 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 down to boredom, he added.
“Flirting is not going to be the way to advance your career, and of course flirting when it is unwanted is not appropriate and you shouldn’t do it. It is not going to help and could be harmful,” Banks said.
The study was presented at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in London.