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6 Seductive Body Language Channels

Seduction is primarily conveyed through nonverbal cues.

Key points

  • A study shows that positive facial expressions, particularly involving the mouth, are interpreted as seductive—such as a sly smile.
  • According to research, touch—such as a light brushing of the hand—is very important to conveying sexual interest.
  • A harsh and negative tone of voice is not considered seductive, says one study on seductive communication.

Many years ago, my colleague, Howard Friedman, and I studied complex emotional communication. One of these was seduction. We asked people to express seduction and videotaped them, but we controlled the verbal channel by having them say standard sentences (“I haven’t seen you for a while”).

What did we discover? First, it was very hard for people to successfully convey seduction on cue, but we did come to understand how people typically behaved seductively. Here are six nonverbal means of communicating seduction.

1. Eye Contact

Subtle and important, just the right amount of eye contact, maintained a bit too long, and then looking away slowly, can be incredibly seductive. In our study, “seducers” who gazed into the camera were more successful at being seductive than were those who couldn’t. Eye contact is a complex means of nonverbal communication. Learn more about its secret powers here.

2. Facial Expression

People who were good at being seductive in our study expressed positive affect, and much of this was done through facial expressions, particularly the mouth. A sly smile, or a brief licking of the lips, can be quite seductive. However, the key is to be subtle, and not overdo it.

3. Posture

This is a body language “classic.” A closed-off posture, with arms folded, or turning away from someone, are obvious signs of lack of interest. Open postures, oriented toward the other person, with a slightly forward lean, are body cues that are seductive.

4. Olfaction

Although we didn’t study the use of perfume/cologne, pleasant scents can be seductive in that they can set up a conditioned response (“just the smell of her/him turns me on”).

5. Touch

In our study, there was no touch, but we know from other research that touch is very important to conveying sexual interest. A light brushing of the hand, or knees touching while seated, can be very seductive.

6. Tone of Voice

Tone of voice, coupled with facial expressions, seemed to be the “make or break” channels in our study for being successfully seductive. A soft, pleasant tone that conveyed positive emotion was successful. A harsh and negative tone of voice was not rated as seductive.

Successful nonverbal communication is not easy. It takes a great deal of practice, and while we spend a lot of time honing our verbal communication skills, we typically spend very little time developing our nonverbal skills. The good news, however, is that with practice and time, people can become more effective nonverbal communicators, and more capable of successfully conveying complex emotions like seduction.


Friedman, Howard S., & Riggio, Ronald E. (1999). Individual differences in ability to encode complex affects. Personality and Individual Differences, 27, 181-194.