by Patrick Appel

Randall Shinn contemplates body language:

In Sex Signals: The Biology of Love, biologist Timothy Perper published research based on thousands of hours spent observing interactions between men and women in places like bars and dance halls. His observation teams discovered that women used predictable patterns of visual and tactile cues to signal a man that they would be receptive to his attention. These “contact-ready” cues were so subtle most men weren’t consciously aware of receiving them, even when they responded to them. 

Perper’s research found that about 90% of women were aware that women sent such cues and could spot other women giving them, whereas only about 5 to 10% of men were consciously aware of them. To eliminate gender bias in their observations, Perper’s observers worked in teams of one man and one woman. Perper discovered that some men could not be trained to be attentive observers because they would avoid seeing women do anything that challenged the common belief that men initiate most male/female relationships.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.