Playing Hard-to-Get: Manipulating One's Perceived Availability as a Mate


Correspondence to: Peter K. Jonason, School of Psychology, University of Western Sydney, Milperra, Sydney, NSW 2214, Australia.



‘Playing hard-to-get’ is a mating tactic in which people give the impression that they are ostensibly uninterested to get others to desire them more. This topic has received little attention because of theoretical and methodological limitations of prior work. We present four studies drawn from four different American universities that examined playing hard-to-get as part of a supply-side economics model of dating. In Studies 1a (N = 100) and 1b (N = 491), we identified the tactics that characterize playing hard-to-get and how often men and women enact them. In Study 2 (N = 290), we assessed reasons why men and women play hard-to-get along with the personality traits associated with these reasons. In Studies 3 (N = 270) and 4 (N = 425), we manipulated the rate per week prospective mates went out with people they had just met and assessed participants' willingness to engage in casual sex and serious romantic relationships with prospective mates (Study 3) and the money and time they were willing to invest in prospective mates (Study 4). We frame our results using a sexual economics model to understand the role of perceived availability in mating dynamics. Copyright © 2012 European Association of Personality Psychology