The Psychology of the Pickup Artist
KamaTV from England has been presenting youtube videos since August, 2015 that, “…teach the science of attraction….” which help men communicate more confidently with women. This enhances their success in dating, and pickup artistry, defined as skilled interaction and seduction technique. They have 1,281 videos with over 100,000,000 views, boasting some 325,000 subscribers. Recently, their presenters have been, Emre Ilkme (CEO), Iain Myles, Gabriella Ryan, and Annabella Rose.
The male coaches’ couture is sometimes subpar, but the females’ look, always trig. In their videos a man and/or woman go to London’s downtown streets, interviewing women with provocative queries like, do looks, skin color, height, money, etc., matter? (Would these women respond privately the way they do in the street?) In other scenarios, either of the men scurries after young women, for encounters always carried out unbeknownst to them; their faces, etc., expunged. Iain, in his “How to approach a girl in the street?” (2017) video, exclaims to one woman, “Excuse me…sorry…you look really hot, by the way…are you, like, Spanish?” He then gets her name and enquires about her vocation and hobbies, and finally acquires her phone number to arrange a rendezvous, later. Forgo anxiety and rejection fears via “instant approach,” and vanquish negativity by not being “outcome dependent,” Iain instructs. Moreover, he advocates “reframing,” which is not worrying how women react, therein ameliorating one’s advancement skills. Curiously, does Kama redact these videotapings to screen out women who were offended and spurned such assertive intrusions? Whatever the coaches also act as wingmen or wingwomen for their clients. KamaTV offers numerous books and engaging webinars. The latter, sometimes gratis, I found, present little more than what Kama preaches on youtube.
According to Kamalifestyles, their coaches have complete instruction in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP). The American Psychological Association defines NLP as, “…techniques…designed to improve interpersonal communications and relationships by modifying…MENTAL MODELS of the world, that individuals…use to…interact with…people” (VandenBos, 2015, p. 703). NLP was hatched from Neurolinguistics, which studies how organization and processing of language in the brain are encoded. NLP supposes the manner in which brain, language, and body interplay to mold such models or programs, thereby influencing behaviors.
Psychotherapist John O. Stevens, M.A. (1980, pp. 423-5) explains NLP is not a therapy, but its principles can apply to therapy. Entrepreneur and habit coach Khalil Gdoura (2020) affirms, “NLP never pretended to be…a…science. Instead, it is an Art of active listening and modeling, live!”
NLP can be used in conjunction with hypnosis (see Hypnosis101.com), boiled down to talking yourself out of self-defeating thinking and behaviors. It doesn’t jive with current neurological theory, which is another discussion.
Sirin Kale Investigates
UK journalist Sirin Kale (2019) explains how the pickup milieu, consisting of “…flattery, psychological manipulation and coercion,” skyrocketed with the release of 2005’s book, The Game, by Neil Strauss. In it, were first taught techniques like “negging,” criticizing women to obliterate their confidence so they requests a man’s acceptance; and “peacocking,” where men dress lavishly to pique women’s intrigue, so they are more open to approach.
Kale visits dating coach/PUA Johnny Cassell. She confesses she always disrelished “street harassment.” Nevertheless, after a $1,000 daylong “Impactful Connection” pop psychology workshop, she accompanies Cassell and two students who go “sarging” (cruising) on London’s streets. Some women pursued are irate, or, say they have a boyfriend. One pupil muses if he’s perturbing anyone. At the bar, that night, Kale witnesses women being objectified. The clients, shy and aimless, seem dependent on their coach. Kale, unimpressed, bids them adieu.
Psychiatrist Malcolm Forbes, M.D., and psychologist/zoologist Ryan Anderson, Ph.D. (2014) decry the aggressive techniques of sexist pickup artist Julien Blanc, shunned in Australia, the UK, and Japan. In general, pickup artists often teach their techniques or “game” to throngs of young men in paid workshops. Forbes and Anderson explain that many pickup artists advise their pupils, a la Blanc, to “… subvert the target’s autonomy.” Like Strauss (above), they have their own argot. For instance, “pawning” (similar to male copying), where the man fetes a woman to display social status to other ladies; “going caveman” (kino escalation), which is resorting to physical, over verbal, communication when meeting a woman; “the seven-hour rule,” meaning it should take no longer than seven hours to achieve intimacy, which PUA’s term “full close.” The authors adumbrate scientifically underlying aspects, referring to investigations by evolutionary psychologists Nathan Oesch (UK) and Igor Miklousic (Croatia), who examine PUA expert Erik Von Markovic, who (much like KamaTV’s descriptions) describes:
1. Attraction, how it begins by “conversation starters,” that is, racy compliments to show interest and look attractive. This is tantamount to risk-taking and social dominance. Pawning enters the picture, too.
2. Comfort and trust, established via being amicable, combined with progressive touching.
3. Seduction, accomplished though information sharing by self-disclosure, leading to a more intimate, personal encounter.
Social and personality psychologist Jeremy Nicholson, M.S.W., Ph.D. (2014) expatiates on the science of pickup lines, affirming that different lines reflect certain personalities and appeal to specific types of women. He says UK psychologist Christopher Bale, Ph.D., et al (2006) inaugurated research here, collating 40 lines from various media and asking male and female subjects what they opined. The lines reflecting a man’s opulence, culture, physical attractiveness and generosity led to further discussion, while the more insipid, and erotic, comments made women walk away.
Administering personality tests to the same subjects, UK psychologist Matthew Cooper, et al (2007) substantiated the above findings, attesting that shy, introverted women prefer the cultured presentation. Extraverted women respond to direct, humorous comments. The more forward, risky types of women, like the general complimentary lines with sensuous overtones. Men’s lines always imply what they want, from a tryst to something more serious.
Dating help sites like KamaTV and others can be useful in pickup–if conducted low-key–but exhaustive empirical studies on said are yet to come. If Neurolinguistic Programming is helpful, try it. However, be vigilant; eschew all scammers.
Bale, Christopher, Morrison, Rory, & Caryl, Peter G. (2006, March). Chat-up lines as male sexual displays. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp. 655-664.
Cooper, Matthew, O’Donnell, David, Caryl, Peter G, Morrison, Rory, & Bale, Christopher. (2007, October). Chat-up lines as male displays. Effects of content, sex, and personality. Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp. 1075-1085.
Forbes, Malcolm, & Anderson, Ryan. (2014, November 11). The Psychology of the Pickup Artist. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mating-game/201411/the-psychology-the-pickup-artist
Gdoura, Khalil. (2020, September 25). Is Neuro Linguistic Programming Pseudoscience? Illumination. https://medium.com/illumination-curated/is-neuro-linguistic-programming-nlp-pseudoscience-7d02f166991d
Hypnosis101.com. (n.d.). NLP Training. https://www.hypnosis101.com/hypnosis-tips/what-is-nlp-and-how-does-it-influence-brain-behavior/
Kale, Sirin. (2019, November 5). 50 years of pickup artists: why is the toxic skill so in demand? The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/nov/05/pickup-artists-teaching-men-approach-women-industry-street-harassment
Kamalifestyles Teaching the Art of Dating. (n.d.). https://kamalifestyles.com/about-us/
KamaTV. (2017, June 22). How to approach a girl in the street? [Video] Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P85wU0lRcDU
Nicholson, Jeremy. (2014, September 30). The Science of Pick-Up Lines. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-attraction-doctor/201409/the-science-pick-lines
Oesch, Nathan, & Miklousic, Igor. (2012, December 20).The dating mind: evolutionary psychology and the emerging science of human courtship. Evolutionary psychology: An international journal of evolutionary approaches to psychology and behavior, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp. 899-909.
Stevens, John O. (1980). Neuro Linguistic Programming. Richard Herink (ed.). The Psychotherapy Handbook The A to Z Guide to More Than 250 Different Therapies In Use Today. New York, NY: Meridian Books.
Strauss, Neil. (2005). The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists. New York, NY: Regan Books.
VandenBos, Gary R. (EIC). (2015). APA Dictionary of Psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Von Markovik, Erik, & Odom, Chris, et al. (2007). The Mystery Method: How to Get Beautiful Women Into Bed. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.
Witkowski, Tomasz (2020, January 1). Thirty-Five Years of Research on Neuro-Linguistic Programming. NLP Research Data Base. State of the Art or Pseudoscientific Decoration? Polish Psychological Bulletin. Volume 41, Issue2, pp. 58-66. doi:10.2478/v10059-010-0008-0
I am a psychologically oriented researcher & author, and a member of the American Psychological Association. A Laurentian University graduate, I also work as an abstract, acrylic artist, in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. My art is often shown in Toronto.
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