Good Question: Does Playing Hard To Get Work?

By Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a real dilemma for daters. When engaging in the dance of seduction, do you play it straight or do you play hard to get?

“I’ve been a victim of women playing hard to get,” laughed Christian Betancourt, a Minneapolis single. “I think sometimes it backfires. Girls act too back-offish, and like Jay-Z said, onto the next one.”

If there were an easy answer, dating wouldn’t be so hard.

“I am torn over whether playing hard to get works or not,” said Leah Michele, a single woman from St. Paul.

Researchers from the University of Virginia studied this question, and their results were published in Psychological Science.

They showed women Facebook profiles of men who had already seen profiles of the women.
The women were asked to rate guys who liked them a lot, liked them an average amount, or liked them at an uncertain level.

They were testing the Reciprocity Principle. The concept that we tend to like people who like us, or dislike people who send the message they dislike us.

With the two certain groups (the men who rated the women average and the men who rated the women very high), the results paralleled the reciprocity principle. But surprisingly, the mystery men rated highest of all.

“Uncertain participants reported thinking about the men the most, and this increased their attraction toward the men,” wrote the researchers.

“Men like to play games. It’s a chase, a game, chasing the unattainable, they have to work harder for it,” said Michele.

“You want what you don’t know about — want what you don’t have. You want something new, exciting, interesting,” added another St. Paul woman.

Researchers call this the pleasure of uncertainty. In dating, it apparently trumps the reciprocity.

“I think ultimately we both like playing games,” said Betancourt.

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