In 2006, evolutionary psychologists published research on the effectiveness of different types of chat-up lines used by men when flirting with women. Male and female participants agreed that lines demonstrating the men's helpfulness, generosity, athleticism, ‘culture’ and wealth were likely to be effective, whereas jokes, empty compliments and sexual references were given the thumbs down.
Now a separate team of psychologists led by Joel Wade have performed a similar investigation, this time focused on chat-up lines used by women. They said such an investigation was timely given that (in their North American) culture women are now increasingly assertive and proactive in seeking sexual relations. The new findings suggest that chat-up lines used by women are perceived as most effective when they are direct (e.g. "Want to meet up later tonight?") rather than more subtle (e.g. "Hello, how is it going?") or sexual/humorous (e.g. "Your shirt matches my bed spread, basically you belong in my bed").
Wade's team began their investigation by asking 40 female undergrads to provide five examples of chat-up lines they would use, and to say how likely it is that they would approach a man in this way. The participants' answers showed many of them would indeed be willing to initiate contact with a man they were interested in.
The participants' chat-up lines were then compiled into ten categories before being rated for effectiveness by 38 women and 32 men. Men and women alike considered direct lines to be the most effective.
The researchers said their findings were consistent with past research showing that, during the first minute of interaction, women with a professed interest in a man send no more non-verbal signals than do non-interested women. "In other words," they explained, "it is hard for a man to determine whether or not a woman is interested in the first few minutes of an interaction. With this in mind, since men are not aware of how well they are doing in terms of getting a date, both sexes may feel a direct approach would be most effective."
Joel Wade, T., Butrie, L., & Hoffman, K. (2009). Women’s direct opening lines are perceived as most effective. Personality and Individual Differences, 47 (2), 145-149 DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2009.02.016
Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.