A study has found that the secret to successful flirting still lies in appearance rather than corny chat up lines — but women also like intelligence and tenderness in a man.

Experts from Cyprus surveyed more than 800 volunteers — finding that men and woman both fall for people who are good looking, well dressed and charming.

Men are reportedly seen as particularly good catches if their appearance and what they said suggested that they were possessed of intelligence and wealth.

The researchers also found that the gentle approach worked best — with a suitor who was polite, respectful and did not ‘move too fast’ likely to be more successful.

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The findings could help counsellors and psychologists deal with clients who have confidence issues, or problems with social interaction.

In their study, social scientist Menelaos Apostolou of the University of Nicosia and colleagues looked at 47 different traits involved in flirting — and asked 808 volunteers to rank how likely each was to work on them.

The three highest ranked traits were humour, intelligence and good looks. 

The team found that other traits — from carrying an air of mystery to appearing determined — were in important in making flirting more effective, but ranked lower.

Women were more likely to seek a tender partner, the researchers found, while men were seen to be less interested in intelligence than good looks

Furthermore, older participants in the study reacted better to a respectful and polite manner from their would-be partner.

How to master the tricky art of flirting. Picture: Pexels

Humans have used flirting to attract suitable mates for centuries, the researchers said.

Traditionally, flirting was a way of showing someone else that one would be good for breeding — so men would demonstrate their strength, or reliability as a prospective father, and women their good health for motherhood.

Many of those aspects remain, though a subtle approach is now more welcome than a brash one.

Although chat up lines may never go away, what is not said may be more important, the team concluded.

‘Making good eye contact and having a good smell would make flirting more effective,’ the researchers concluded in their paper.

‘Moreover, as indicated by the “Mystery” factor, giving the impression of a mystery and originality were elements of effective flirting.’

‘Women rated non-verbal behaviours and a gentle approach as more effective on them, while men rated good looks as more effective.’

How to master the tricky art of flirting. Picture: Pexels

‘Flirting is an essential aspect of human interaction and key for the formation of intimate relationships.’ 

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Personality and Individual Difference.