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J Exp Psychol Gen. 2014 Apr;143(2):521-6. doi: 10.1037/a0032989. Epub 2013 May 13.

When does playing hard to get increase romantic attraction?

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CUHK Business School, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
Graduate School of Business, Stanford University.


Folk wisdom suggests playing hard to get is an effective strategy in romantic attraction. However, prior research has yielded little support for this belief. This article seeks to reconcile these contrasting views by investigating how 2 hitherto unconsidered factors, (a) the asymmetry between wanting (motivational) and liking (affective) responses and (b) the degree of psychological commitment, can determine the efficacy of playing hard to get. We propose that person B playing hard to get with person A will simultaneously increase A's wanting but decrease A's liking of B. However, such a result will only occur if A is psychologically committed to pursuing further relations with B; otherwise, playing hard to get will decrease both wanting and liking. Two studies confirm these propositions. We discuss implications for interpersonal attraction and the interplay between emotion and motivation in determining preferences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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