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Negging is an act of emotional manipulation whereby a person makes a deliberate backhanded compliment or other negative comment to another person to undermine their confidence and increase their need of the manipulator's approval.[1] The term was coined and prescribed by pickup artists.[1]

It is related to gaslighting and, like gaslighting, is designed to increase the subject's vulnerability to manipulation.[2][3]

Negging is often misunderstood as straightforward insult rather than as a pick-up line,[4]

Neil Strauss, in his book The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, also stresses that the primary point of the technique is not to put women down but for a man to disqualify himself as a potential suitor. On this account he refers to negs as "disqualifiers", although the technique described in the book is recognisably the same as von Markovik's. Strauss is equally clear that negs should not be used as insults: "a disqualifier should never be hostile, critical, judgmental, or condescending. There's a line between flirting and hurting. And disqualification is never intended to be mean and insulting." (from Rules of the Game).

The term has been popularized in social media[5] and mainstream media.[6][7][8] The opposite is pozzing, whereby one pays a person a compliment in order to gain their affection.[6]


  1. ^ a b Nicholson, Jeremy (31 August 2013). "Can an Insult Make You Fall in Love?". Psychology Today. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  2. ^ The Ethics of Manipulation, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  3. ^ How to Recognize the Signs of Emotional Manipulation and What to Do, Healthline
  4. ^ Woolf, Nicky (25 May 2012). ""Negging": the anatomy of a dating trend". New Statesman. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  5. ^ Marcotte, Amanda (18 April 2015). "How the bitter men of the MRA movement ruin things for other guys". Raw Story. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  6. ^ a b Bradshaw, Peter (21 January 2015). "A brief history of pozzing and negging". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  7. ^ Hale, Mike (20 April 2014). "Back to 'The Boondocks,' Minus Its Creator's Touch". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  8. ^ Henderson, Odie (12 April 2015). "Silicon Valley Season 2 Premiere Recap: Hooli's Revenge". Vulture. Retrieved 21 April 2015.