The Challenge: It’s so hard to pick up a cute stranger!
The Science: Men and women prefer different pick-up lines!
The Solution: Understand what men and women dig and get back on the scene with confidence!
In the ’80s, Chris Kleinke and colleagues analyzed the effectiveness of 100 pick-up lines across a number of different settings, including bars, supermarkets, restaurants, laundromats, and beaches. They found three main categories of openers: direct gambits, which are honest and get right to the point (e.g, “I’m sort of shy, but I’d like to get to know you“),innocuous gambits, which hide a person’s true intentions (“e.g., “What do you think of this band?“), and cute/flippant gambits, which involve humor, but often in a cheesy, canned way (e.g., “Do you have any raisins? No? Well then, how about a date?“.)*
Both men and women agreed that cute/flippant pick-up lines were the least attractive. Women, however, preferred innocuous lines and had a greater aversion to cute/flippant lines than men, while men had a greater preference for direct opening gambits than women. This basic pattern has been found over and over again in a variety of settings, including singles bars. What’s going on?
Trait perception plays a crucial role. We don’t have direct access to a person’s characteristics, so we infer underlying traits from overt behaviors. One study found that people perceive those who use innocuous lines as smarter and sexier than those who use cute/flippant lines. Another study found that while women perceived men who use silly pick-up lines as more sociable, confident, and funny, they also perceived them as less trustworthy and intelligent. While all these traits are certainly valued in a mate, research shows that low trustworthiness and low intelligence are deal breakers for a long-term relationship, overriding other “luxuries”, such as humor and confidence.
Women are rightfully skeptical of cute/flippant pick-up lines: research shows that those with a long-term mating strategy tend to use supportive and honest pick-up strategies, whereas those with a short-term strategy tend to use manipulation and dishonesty. I should note that when a woman is looking for a short-term fling, it may be an entirely different story: one study conducted on college students found that women were willing to have a short-term fling with men they were attracted to, regardless of the content of his pick-up lines! More stable individual differences also play a role, with extraverts and those with a general orientation toward hook-ups vs. long-term committed relationships, more receptive to humor and sexually charged pick-up lines.
This article originally appeared at Psychology Today.
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