The Psychology of Pick Up Lines

Psychology pick up lines

Psychology is interested in nearly every part of human nature, including how relationships begin.

While experiments have previously considered the effect of first impressions and appearance it may surprise some people to find out studies have even considered how effective pick up lines are (also known as chat up lines).

The Psychology of Pick Up Lines: How Effective are Pick up Lines?

Well back in the 1980’s a team of psychologists analysed 100 pick up lines to work out what made an effective pick up line. The team considered the different pick up lines over a number of different settings including bars, restaurants, supermarkets and beaches.

From their the team was able to split the chat up lines in to 3 categories:

  • Direct gambits — honest lines that get to the point
  • Innocuous gambits — a line that hides the persons true intentions
  • Cute/flippant gambits — tended to involve humour or a cheesy line

The researchers found that both men and women agreed that the cute/flippant lines were least attractive. While women generally preferred the innocuous lines and men found the best performance by using direct gambits when compared with women. These patterns were found to be consistent across the range of settings that the pick up lines were tested in.

Why do people prefer certain types of pick up lines over others?

While its true that peoples individual differences play a big part in what type of chat up line they prefer one study demonstrated that people perceived innocuous lines as smarter and sexier than cute/flippant lines. Another study found that women thought men who used sillier pick up lines as more confident, funnier and more sociable although less intelligent and trustworthy.

Intelligence and trustworthiness are known to be important in long term relationships so while silly pick up lines may be good for short term relations if you’re looking for something long term, you may want to avoid them.

While pick up lines can be effective, one study found that women looking for a short-term relationship would have a relationship regardless of the content or type of pick up line used if they found their would be partner attractive.

What Could Stop a Pick Up Line From Working?

As well as the individual differences of the person delivering the chat up line, the current state and long term traits of the recipient also plays an important role. But what does that translate to in practical terms? Well, people who are more tired are less receptive to cute/flippant lines and are more open to innocuous gambits. The simple explanation for this is that when cute/flippant lines were used it is more obvious to the recipient that a pick up line is being used, while in their tired state they do not realise that they are subject to the innocuous chat up line.

How to use Pick Up Lines

Overall the research suggests that a pick up line that highlights value such as wealth, generosity or athleticism provides the most benefit. Research also suggests that individuals who are more outgoing may benefit from using a more direct approach that incorporates humour in their pick up lines, the boldness with a direct and funny chat up lines shows confidence and even leadership.

Key Take Aways:

  • Women generally prefer innocuous pick up lines
  • Personality type matters for both recipient and person delivering the line
  • Lines vary in success depending on current states e.g. tiredness, mood