9/6/2012 12:12 PM
Memorizing clever openers to use when you approach singles at the bar on a Friday night? You’re probably wasting your time. If it is late in the evening, you’ll do a lot better just introducing yourself. Recent research indicates that, at the end of the day, a cutesy line is most likely to get you turned down flat.
The answer is in ego-depletion; this is the word researchers use for the state of being worn out by spending time exerting discipline or self-control. Discipline and self-control, for most people, are limited resources. When you spend a lot of time exerting control over yourself, your supply of willpower gets depleted. And, people who are in a state of depletion are far more likely to dismiss overt pick-ups out of hand.
To find out which pick-up lines were most effective with people who were in an ego-depleted state, researchers had study participants take on one of two tasks: one group was asked to write a story without ever using the letters “A” or “N” and the other was asked to write a story without any restrictions. After completing the task, the participants were shown three different pick-up styles, and told to imagine their receptivity to these lines if they were coming from an attractive individual. The lines were divided into three categories:
- Direct lines, where the suitor opened by saying that he or she found the person attractive, and had to come talk to them.
- Indirect lines, where they were approached with a simple, “Hi, what is your name?” introduction.
- Cute pick-up lines such as “I seem to have lost my phone number. Can I have yours?”
Those who were depleted were most likely tell someone who approached them with cute pick-up lines to go away. And, it makes sense. The aggression in an overt pick-up can be off-putting.
Innocuous pick-up lines, on the other hand, were more likely to be successful when someone was worn out. The researchers theorize that it is because people found these less demanding, and also because it was harder to figure out whether the person was merely being friendly. A simple conversation where nothing is expected of you is far more welcome at the end of the day than a pick-up, where you feel like someone wants something from you.
If you are approaching people in situations where they are feeling worn out, such as at the end of the workday, it’s probably best to dispense with the cute pick-up and instead, go for a friendly and open approach.