This is an interesting article about how our perceptions of self are affected by flirtation from authority figures.
Satterfield, A., & Muehlenhard, C. (1997, September). Shaken confidence. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21(3), 395-416.
Summary. This study examines the affect of flirting on one's perception of their performance and abilities. In other words, decreases in confidence in the workplace are explored in terms of how they are affected by flirtation from one's superiors. Derived from extensive prior research, it is shown that even when flirtatious behavior is not considered sexual harassment, it can affect the target individual's perception of why they did or did not receive positive performance feedback (grades, reviews, promotions, etc.) This, in turn, is explored as a possible cause for lacking self-confidence, questioning one's abilities, or dismissing one's performance.
Data Collection, Analysis, & Results. In order to determine if flirting has an affect on one's perceptions of abilities and performance, two experiments were conducted. The first subjected female participants to a scenario requiring a task, a flirtatious/non-flirtatious authority figure, and a scripted positive feedback response. A pretest questionnaire was conducted to measure primary interests and self-esteem. Four posttest questionnaires were conducted to measure demographics, creativity, self-esteem, and perceptions of the authority figure. Experiment 1 results revealed that women's reports of creativity significantly decreased after receiving the positive feedback from a flirtatious authority figure, while reports of creativity were not affected by positive feedback from a non-flirtatious authority figure. The second experiment sought to replicate previous results and include male participants. Results of Experiment 2 reflected those of the first in regards to women; however, men's reports of creativity were not significantly affected by flirtation from an authority figure.
Significance. The two experiments conducted in this study offer valuable insight into the possible affects of flirtation from an authority figure. Therefore, this can be applied when exploring flirtatious behavior in a work environment and how it is perceived to have negative affects.