New research led by Bucknell University psychology professor T. Joel Wade and published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences suggests that blunt one-liners may work most effectively on straight men. A previous study showed that straight women tend to prefer innocuous lines.
“What is different about this research is that it takes into account the attractiveness of the woman delivering the line as well as cues suggesting possible ease of sexual access with her,” Wade said. “The findings further show that women are active agents in mate selection.”
Conducted in part by Sarah Coughlin and Maryanne L. Fisher, both from the Department of Psychology at Saint Mary’s University in Canada, the latest study fills a gap in pick-up-line research. Much of the earlier work centered on women’s responses to the flirtations, generally finding that women may see men who use flippant lines as untrustworthy or unintelligent.
The new work shows that, after direct pick-up lines, flippant lines were the second-most effective on straight men, with innocuous lines coming in last. The findings are based on responses from 130 men, most living in the U.S. or Canada, who were shown a dozen photos of women along with varied pick-up lines.
Researchers found that a woman’s relative attractiveness has a bigger effect on the effectiveness of her pick-up lines than her perceived promiscuousness. Overall, pick-up lines tended to be more effective as men found the women to be both more promiscuous and attractive. The research defines effectiveness as the likelihood of landing a phone number or some other way to follow up.