A few years back, Neil Strauss published a book entitled The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists. The book chronicles Strauss’ journey from “chick repellant” to a master of seduction, a feat he accomplished by hiring a very expensive pickup “expert” to teach him the tricks of the trade. Among the things he learned was a technique known as “negging,” which essentially involves belittling a woman upon meeting her. The idea is that by lowering her self-esteem through a mild insult, she will be more easily seduced. In other words, if you can undermine her confidence, she’ll be more likely to settle for you instead of holding out for a better guy.
Not only do a number of men employ this technique while prowling for hook-ups, but some also practice it in their everyday relationships to keep their partners from leaving. As some evidence of this, research shows that the men who hurl the most insults at their partners also engage in the most “mate retention” behaviors, actions designed to make sure their partner stays in the relationship.1 It is interesting to note that the men who do this tend to have low “mate value,” meaning that guys who are less desirable in general (e.g., perhaps because they are poor or unattractive) are the most likely to verbally attack their partners as a way of getting them to stick around.2
So does negging work? Can it actually help you to both find and keep a romantic or sexual partner? Perhaps, but it’s unlikely (especially if you’re looking to establish a long-term relationship). A large body of research indicates that women are far more attracted to people who make them feel good than people who make them feel bad. Who knew? In fact, when women rank-order their ideal characteristics in a partner, “kindness and compassion” is their second most desired trait!3 Believe it or not, “treats me like garbage” does not make the list. It is also useful to note that at the end of The Game, Strauss reports that his pickup techniques failed when he eventually went looking for love.
To sum up, although some guys may find short-term success with negging, it seems doubtful that putting someone down could ever form the basis of a successful, long-term relationship.
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1McKibbin, W. F., Goetz, A. T., Shackelford, T. K., Schipper., L. D., Starratt, V. G., & Stewart-Williams, S. (2007). Why do men insult their intimate partners? Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 231-241.
2Miner, E. J., Shackelford, T. K., & Starratt, V. G. (2009). Mate value of romantic partners predicts men’s partner-directed verbal insults. Personality and Individual Differences, 46, 135-149.
3Regan, P. C., & Bercheid, E. (1997). Gender differences in characteristics desired in a potential sexual and marriage partner. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 9, 25-37.
Dr. Justin Lehmiller – Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Dr. Lehmiller’s research program focuses on how secrecy and stigmatization impact relationship quality and physical and psychological health. He also conducts research on commitment, sexuality, and safer-sex practices.
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you cannot say it would not work based solely on research that looks at "expressed needs" and not at field based actual "unexpressed desires" which explain real-world actions.
Negging works exactly because woman rate that kindness first. it shows initial detachment and non-neediness, doing something that is the opposite of what a woman expect from a suitor. in that regard, its like a Peacock tail.
Justin J. Lehmiller says
You are correct that negging is certainly the opposite of what most women expect and, therefore, is likely to capture their attention. However, what captures someone's attention is not the same as what captures someone's heart. Research has repeatedly shown that both men and women want a partner who is kind and who makes them feel good. There is also a lot of research showing that reciprocity (i.e., when one partner does something nice, the other does something nice in return) is a key factor in attraction and relationship success. As a result, I stand by my statement that insults are unlikely to help you find a partner, especially if you're looking for a long term relationship.
I know some guys who swear by negging, though, and I don't dispute that it may work for some of them at least some of the time. As a general rule, however, I don't think it tends to be as successful as more conventional pickup techniques. For example, there was a BBC series examining this idea a few years back titled "Secrets of the Sexes" (you can see a segment of the program here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIFxLLjjNoo). They conducted a speed-dating session and had a few guys in the mix who tried negging, but were highly unsuccessful (combined, these guys had only one offer for a real date after going through 60 speed-date encounters!). Thus, I'm not claiming that negging NEVER works–I'm just not aware of any scientific evidence that it's truly a successful technique or that it even comes close to the success of more traditional methods.
Whoa now — apples 'n oranges. You describe your "large body of research" as "when women rank-order"? Is that it? I've heard it asked somewhere "what do women want?" As if they really know? And they're just gonna tell you? Haha! This makes me wonder why you attempt to 'neg' the real-world findings of so many, and resort to questionnaires to set the record straight. Agenda, much?
There's a BIG BIG difference between what women *say* they want, and what they actually respond to. (Read that again!) An occasional 'neg' serves to reset the accumulated narcissism that leads to a woman's got-her-man syndrome. The got-her-man invites habituation and lowest common denominator sex. So 'queen for a day' is good some days, but not everyday. Nobody is that hot! And if she thinks she is, and he cooperates, just watch her libido needle drop. Guaranteed. Then she'll buy/express the rational that "sex isn't that important, there's more to a relationship than sex." Until he finds another sex partner then sex is front row & center. Or she'll just somehow find that she's "not happy" or that "this relationship isn't going anywhere."
This dynamic is a result of that ill-fitting adaptation to civilization we call monogamy. Whole 'nuther story there, but it's the absolute truth. (see "Sex At Dawn", Ryan and Jetha, 2010)
In defense of the article, nobody arguing against it has provided any support besides speculation and hypothetical examples. Not even an anecdote to be found. Not even an "I tried this and it worked." So I've got to say, guys, no matter how much you want it to be true, reality does not take your preferences into account.
The key rebuttal to "Negging doesn't work" seems to be "Women don't want a guy who is a pushover." Granted, but does it really support what you're trying to claim? If you don't want to be a pushover, try being secure, confident, and assertive. Those are attractive qualities that are actually provably effective in displaying high mate value, and you know what? The only way "negging" works is when your target is confused enough to believe those are the qualities you're displaying.
1. I do not neg. I think it is immoral and it is certainly not the way I wish to be treated.
I am 39, and have seen numerous examples in my life of beautiful, smart women who are with men who treat them like crap. The men belittle them, ignore them, are callous and uncaring, and the woman stays with him like he is king of the universe.
So, negging, while repulsive, does work. There are far too many times when my friends and I wonder "why is she with that douchebag?"
Really, I expected a lot more from a website called "Science Of Relationships". Firstly, Strauss says to only using negging on the best looking women, and even then only occasionally and never on less good-looking women. Secondly, what women say and what women do are TOTALLY different realms, so when you say "women rank-order their ideal characteristics in a partner", that really has no value in this discussion – you have to look at what they actually DO in reality. Finally, you have to differentiate between picking up women and creating strong long term relationships. All any pickup artist is going to do for you is open the door, after that the rest is up to you. For many "nice guys", opening the door is the hard part – once given a chance they tend to do very well within relationships. I would strongly support the hypothesis that negging has a part to play in the early pickup stages of dating, especially with better looking women.
Science of Relationships says
Our take (as admins of the site, and not the author of this piece) is that there isn't any scientific evidence that negging works, although there are some results that would indicate it doesn't. When there's solid empirical (NOT anecdotal) evidence showing that it's effective, we'll be sure to run a story on it. But until then, from a scientific perspective there's no justification for saying that negging works. As Tom Cruise's character in Jerry Maguire would say, "show me the data…SHOW ME THE DATA!"
Negging is not 'treating someone like garbage'. That is the difference. A neg is playful and fun and not rude. It just shows that a man is strong and not needy and that he won't do anything to be liked. It shows strength. Of course you shouldn't be downright rude or treat women like garbage.
Julius is right … negging is more about playful jabbing than being rude and a jerk. Good looking, smart women will not respond to a nice guy approach – they are hit on all the time, by the best of them, men and women! Negging shows that you are not desperate and have a sense of humor.
I have to admit something … I read one of the seduction threads several years ago and decided to try negging. I picked one body part – knees – and tried it with women whose knees were visible. It was wildly successful – and fun – for both parties. Of course, it probably would not work on a woman who thought she had ugly knees, but on women who were obviously in love with themselves, it worked like a charm.
Also, I do agree with Julius, and also the example about knees. You pick something funny, not hurtful. The problem is the rest of the guys that do this insult, and insult and insult you, until the point of rage. But, Julius probably isn't a jerk the rest of the time either. Play a little is one thing. Trying to whack someone to the ground is another.
I agree with Julius as well. A neg isn't necessarily insulting or hurtful…it's meant to be funny in a snarky kind of way. I feel like it's a good way to determine a girl's sense of humor and confidence – if she takes it well, or shoots a comment right back at you in return, then you know that she's tough and she can laugh at herself, and that's the kind of girl you want!
I'm not sure if this works with other women or not, but I hate the idea of 'negging'. I am a 21 year old woman and had a recent experience dating this guy I was crazy for…until the negging. I definitely responded to him, but not in a positive way. I told him that I did not want to spend time with someone that makes me feel bad about myself, which seemed to upset him a great deal. This surprised me as this 'negging' had me believe he wasn't in to me at all!
Examples of what he had said (that put ME off): 'You have lots of split ends', 'you have a boney arse', 'your lips aren't all that attractive', 'you behave like a little girl', 'i've heard that you're big-headed', 'you're crazy if you think you're meeting my parents'
Joe America says
Saying what women “like” is not useful, because it does not matter, at least to getting them on all fours. Its how they actually respond that matters. Its what they actually do, you see women are full time hypocrites. And they are not really even aware of this. And most are uncomfortable with any revelations of this knowledge. Women are happy heard animals when they don't have to think too much. Women endlessly examine their navels discussing social possibilities doing little of what they feel is very easy. Women “like” the the welfare state. Women “like” all the free no obligation extensive handouts, they “like” it that no matter how they behave they are guaranteed all the things they need. Women will stay around, get fat and lazy as long as the food is good. This well intended state intrusion into womens lives has had a drastic effect on male female relations. You add mass media Disneyland entitlement expectations with a political correctness education, its no small wonder why guys resort to these tactics. When a guy correctly appeals to a womans lizard brain the hypocrisies do not matter, she responds as woman and eagerly assumes the position. Women can respond with excessive drama when they don't get their way, like when a guy dumps them.
Joe, you might want to check your own herd mentality, lol. Your talking points are so unoriginal that I can recognize the area of the interwebs that they originated from. Here's the thing Joe, the manosphere is filled with bloggers and commenters that are self proclaimed autistics, narcissists and sociopaths. I (And even more who display these traits with very little self awareness) f you want to follow the advice of the socially challenged, I guess that's your choice.
As for negging, playful teasing is fun. Obnoxiousness isn't. Some guys swear by treating women mean to keep them keen, but really, the women who are going to respond to that are either codependant or personality disordered. Confidence is attractive but here's the thing. Men who are actually confident wouldn't be caught dead emulating 22 year old frat boys, the personality disordered or the rantings of autstic "alpha" keyboard warriors. But then agin Joe, you sound like you fit right in with your herd.
Well, I'm a women. I just finished with my boyfriend 'cause I felt he was treating me like crap. I didn't have any idea he was playing dirty by using such a stupid technic to hook me up. I was hurt for so long while hanging out with him; we broke up every freaking thursday and I was always feeling confuse about the way he was acting. It was my first time dealing with someone treating me that way and I was all time absolutely confuse, I never knew what to do, I didn't feel love at any time of our relationship, but just rejected and taken and so on. I cannot believe I allow all that shit to happen, but okay it happened. Negging is such a selfish shit technic that is used for those who feel unable at all to conquer someone or aren't confident at all to say to their partner they are just wanting to have fun tasting themselves that they can make a women "beg" for them. It can be a good choice at the beginning to call their attention, but it's not healthy at all to keep using it. I ended up hating him. It was pretty interesting how he "rejected" me at the beginning, but as he kept doing it our relationship became an abusive and harsh relationship. I'm never again letting someone do this again. That just sucks!
Guys, you can use negging once to call her attention, but if you keep doing it while you are already on a relationship, your relationship is going to end up really bad. Everybody needs to feel love and affection, and if they don't find it they will just leave. And when you are on such harsh relationship the only thing you want to do is, leave. I'm just telling what I lived and I'd not like any of you go through the same thing.
I do this all the time instinctively. I had no idea there was a name for it. I think it's a male defense mechanism against the artificial glamour of American females, most of whom are a shell of themselves without their makeup.
I agree completely with Natalie – the man I was involved with for a year and a half went from light little teasing put downs to full scale four letter word put downs – comparing me to other "younger" or "exotic" women two things I can't change I can't get younger or suddenly be foreign – he always kept me insecure and anxious leaving me confused as to when we would meet again – calling me at the last minute like an option down the list of priorities – I have gone no contact on him and I feel much better now confidence coming back – these men who put women down just keep doing it and the teasing becomes insults – they don't stop doing it hurting the one they're with is just what they do – can't change them – nowadays I wouldn't even try –
There are plenty of others !
Lamar penn says
I hate these studies, because a women is going to answer all questions with logic because she is not in her emotional state during questioning. Woman aren’t even aware that there accepting being treated poorly in the moment in most cases. They are subconsciously being driven by emotion which is why they always always say…. ” I don’t why I love him so much “. The men are the only ones being truthful in these studies.