The economics of seduction?

Are there secrets of seduction, drawn from (gasp) social scienceIn his new book Neil Strauss says yes.  Here is an interview.  He recommends playing hard-to-get, perhaps he has read signaling theory:

I learned that the more unavailable you make yourself, the more people would want you. The more you say ‘stop touching me’ or ‘I’m taken’ or ‘you’re just not my type,’ the more people would actually chase you…A small example would be — this sounds awful to say, but it’s true — if, say I tried to kiss someone and got rejected. I found that if I just turned my head away and ignored them for about five seconds, then turn back and say the same thing, most of the time they’d then go ahead and kiss me. I could be a punishment-reward thing, or it could be that people’s first reaction is no, but once they’ve had a moment to think about it, they think, ‘Well maybe this guy’s alright.’

And yes there are workshops for pick-up artists.  Here is a website on how to act like an alpha male.

I can only wonder: What would Barbara Ehrenreich do with this material?

My second question, which perhaps an alpha male would never ask, is how the hard-to-get strategy is an equilibrium, equating returns on all margins for all players (no pun intended) in the repeated game.  Isn’t "hard-to-get" too easy to mimic

And don’t you have to be noticed in the first place?  I never came on to Salma Hayek (unlike Daniel Drezner, who courted her repeatedly on his blog), yet this reticence paid few dividends, not even a courtesy trackback or link.  So how do you know when to back off, isn’t this like forecasting when the real estate bubble will crash?

Of course this point about timing addresses whether the strategy is easy to mimic.  A proper application of hard-to-get is well…hard to get right.  Plus some women are shrewd, which means you actually have to be hard-to-get, which is no fun at all, just remember the movie about that forty-year-old guy with all the action figures.

Thanks to Michael at for the pointer.


Comments for this post are closed