Study author Peter Jonason, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Western Sydney in Australia, and colleagues said playing "hard to get" is a mating tactic in which people give the impression they are ostensibly uninterested to get others to desire them more.
The researchers conducted four experiments using a supply-side economics model of dating involving about 500 U.S. college students. The students were asked to rank a list of 58 "hard-to-get" strategies. They ranked acting confident and talking to others as the two most commonly used methods. Women also tended not to call, not to talk a lot and to stay busy more than men, while men who wanted to appear "hard to get" acted rude, "said all the right things" but didn't call, and some just treated others badly.
The researchers found for a serious relationship, women favored a man who was not too easy or too hard to get, while men favored women who were hard to get.
However, for women looking for casual sex, playing hard to get did not pay, but for a man looking for a casual fling, it paid to be impossible to get, NBCNEWS.com reported.
The study, published in the European Journal of Personality, also found the less available a person was, the more a prospective mate was willing to invest time and money in him or her.