A new study says 82% of women have no idea when a man is flirting with them.

The somewhat tenuous finding was produced by Jeffery Hall, associate professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas, who says most women fail to pick up on the obvious signals given out by men.

He reached the conclusion by conducting a study with 52 pairs of heterosexual university students, who were asked to speak to each other for 10-12 minutes and then write down if they thought their partner was flirting with them.

While 80 per cent of them could pick when they weren't being flirted with, far less were able to conclude when they were.

And it wasn't just the ladies that failed to pick up on it: 64% of the male participants were also unable to identify when their female partner was flirting with them.

"It does seem that women are just a little more clear if they are interested or not," Hall explained.

He says because we're not used to have our flirting "validated" we're unable to pick up on it when it's happening.

"People aren't going to do it in obvious ways because they don't want to be embarrassed, flirting looks a lot like being friendly, and we are not accustomed to having our flirting validated so we can get better at seeing it," said Hall.

So is our casual culture to blame? Or the fact that online dating has taken off in such a big way?

"In part I blame Banter Culture," says Caroline Kent from the UK Telegraph. "These days everyone is a "mate", so how are we supposed to know when you actually like us, versus when you're just treating us as "one of the lads"?

The moral of the story? Both sexes need to be more obvious when it comes to flirting. If we've learnt anything from Tony Abbott though, it's that the blatant wink definitely doesn't work.

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