But, at the same time, it can make them appear more manipulative and less trustworthy, says a lifestyle study.
Set out to discover if flirting could be an asset in business negotiations, the US researchers were surprised to find that it came at the bottom of a list of 10 characteristics including attractiveness, honesty and friendliness, a major newspaper reported.
In a follow-up study, videos of negotiators played by actors -- male and female -- were watched and evaluated. The actors followed two scripts -- one straight, one flirtatious.
In the second, in which they were called on to flirt, they were perceived to be less genuine, although the actress was considered more likeable. The same, however, did not apply to men.
The two studies in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin were carried out by the University of California, Berkeley.
Laura Kray, of University California-Berkeley, said they began by exploring the lay belief that "women can use flirtation to their advantage in professional contexts and contrast it with trained negotiators' negative views on flirtation".
"We discovered both an upside and a downside to flirting at the bargaining table."
"Although flirtation appears to be positively related to women's likability, negotiators who flirted were judged to be less authentic than those who refrained from exercising their sexual power," Kray added.