Pick-up lines are a way that people can try to attract a romantic or sexual prospect. This is a tactic more commonly used by men, but is this an effective strategy for women as well? A study published in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences suggests that pick-up lines can be effective for women and that extraversion was a big factor in perceived effectiveness.
Flirting is important for finding romantic and sexual relationships and can include a myriad of behaviors, verbal, and nonverbal cues. There are gender differences in what is most effective, with men ranking attractiveness as number one and women preferring gentleness. Pick-up lines are used more often by men due to women generally being more selective in their mate preferences. Due to this, there is a lack of research regarding women’s use of pick-up lines. This study sought to bridge this gap.
Researcher T. Joel Wade and colleagues recruited 39 men and 57 women who were attending a university in the Northeast United States or lived in the surrounding area to serve as their sample. Ages ranged from 18 to 96 in order to include people who were in their post reproductive years. Participants completed demographic information and a measure on the Big Five personality traits.
Participants were given 10 statement categories of commonly used female pick-up lines and asked to rate how effective they believe they would be for women using them. The categories were directly asking someone out on a date, indirectly hinting at a date, sharing things in common, giving out phone number, giving a compliment, asking if the person is single, asking a personal interest question, saying something funny, familiarity, and subtle hello.
Results showed that the most effective pick-up lines for women were direct, then sharing things in common, then asking for a phone number, then indirectly hinting at a date, and then asking if the person is single. Researchers categorized the 10 items into direct, innocuous, and flippant and showed that men believed direct was more effective than women did. This is thought to be due to it being clear and making the odds of missing a mating opportunity low. The results also highlight extraversion as an important variable, as extraverted people are more bold and likely to approach a potential mate.
This study took steps into understanding the effectiveness of pick-up lines for women. Despite this, it has some limitations. Firstly, this study relied on perceived effectiveness rather than actual effectiveness, which could be less accurate. Additionally, this focused on heterosexual cisgendered people and future research could look beyond that to be more inclusive.
“In the current study, we replicate and extend the current literature pertaining to women’s use of pick-up lines. Our findings demonstrate that men perceive women’s use of direct pick-up lines as the most effective, presumably because there is little room for mistaking intention or missing a possible mating opportunity,” the researchers concluded. “Extraversion, compared to the other Big Five dimensions, is significantly correlated with perceiving women’s pick-up lines as effective. Age, though, has minimal influence on perceptions of effectiveness but highlights the necessity for understanding the initiation of interactions among older individuals.”
The study, “The perceived effectiveness of women’s pick-up lines: Do age and personality matter?“, was authored by T. Joel Wade, Maryanne L. Fisher, and Lauren Gaines.