When does playing hard to get increase romantic attraction?

Xianchi Dai*, Ping Dong, Jayson S. Jia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-526
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Commitment
  • Hard to get
  • Motivational and affective evaluation
  • Romantic attraction
  • Wanting and liking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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