Do Your Feet Hurt? Can I Pick You Up?

“Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?”

A girl may hear this line, or at least ones like it, once or twice in her lifetime.  The curiosity of Assistant Professor of Psychology Corwin Senko brought him to research the phenomenon known as “pick-up” lines.

Before he came to New Paltz, Senko was introduced to the topic of pick-up lines while he was teaching a research methods class at another college.

A former student brought the original study for the class to read and it grabbed Senko’s attention. He said he reviewed the research and brought it to New Paltz.

Although this has been a topic of interest for Senko, the research was an aversion from his serious studies and served as more of an entertainment purpose for the professor.

Research topics on sexuality are not taken seriously in the professional world, Senko said.

“I don’t want to be known as the pick-up guy. I don’t want to be misunderstood. [The study] was just for kicks,” Senko said.

In the fall of 2008, Senko teamed up with a psychology student of his at the time, Viviana Fyffe, and the two began their study.

“I thought that the study would be interesting and fun…I felt that the topic would be interesting to the surrounding college population,” Fyffe said.

In prior research, Senko analyzed three types of pick-up lines: the humorous line, direct line and the safe phrase.

Senko said that funny lines are less direct and serious, while direct phrases are more complimentary and display confidence.

Senko said a direct line may sound like “I saw you across the room and I knew I had to meet you. What’s your name?” or, “I like your shoes. What’s your name?”

The original study found that women felt humorous lines were ineffective while men thought them to be effective. Senko said women were also more likely to converse longer with a man who had used a direct line, even in bar settings.

“If I hear a good one, I’m amused,” Grace Noto, a second-year English major, said

Noto said she tends to try to mentally block out the cheesier lines she hears.

Senko said he took the original study and added a twist. He used physical appeal as the control and introduced the variable of the type of relationship women were interested in.

Senko said that his results proved that when women wanted a short-term commitment, they were drawn to attractive men who used humorous lines, where women who desired long-term relationships gravitated toward men using direct lines with less appeal.

Fyffe said 70 women were asked to imagine scenarios through surveys. Men were described as either attractive or unattractive and the women were asked to explain the type of relationship they were seeking.

“[The study] is useful to both sexes. It’s good for men to know what’s effective and not effective, misunderstandings of being clever and social cues,” Senko said. “I imagine women already know all of this.”