Flirting in service encounters: does the server’s sex matter?

Tali Seger-Guttmann, Hana Medler-Liraz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Scholars have acknowledged gender-role ideology as a central factor in flirting style. This study aims to exam the combined effect of flirting type and flirter's sex on positive and adverse customer reactions. Design/methodology/approach: In Study 1, participants (N = 555) were divided into four scenario conditions in a 2 × 2 between-subjects experimental design: server sex (male vs female) and flirting type (authentic vs fake). Study 1 scenarios explored positive customer outcomes (i.e. loyalty and tip size). Study 2 applied the same research design, presenting participants (N = 404) scenarios relating to negative outcomes (i.e. anger and sense of threat). Findings: The findings revealed that the flirter’s sex significantly moderated the relationship between flirting type and customers’ (the targets’) reactions. Originality/value: This research offers three primary contributions. First, it elaborates on the dynamics of flirting in service settings (i.e. face-to-face interactions between the service provider and customer). Second, as the effects of flirting on its targets have been reported as equivocal (perceived as pleasing and flattering or, in contrast, annoying, deceptive and misleading), this study explores its positive and negative customer-related outcomes. Third, the study seeks to better understand the impact of a flirting service employee’s sex on customers’ outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-562
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Services Marketing
Issue number5
StatePublished - 4 May 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Authenticity
  • Customer
  • Fake displays
  • Flirting
  • Server sex
  • Service employees
  • Service outcomes
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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