Chat-up lines, and other openings used to initiate a relationship with a woman, can be viewed as male displays. How well does their effectiveness accord with predictions from evolutionary psychology? 205 undergraduates (142 female, 63 male) rated 40 vignettes; in each vignette, a man approached a woman and the raters judged whether she would continue the conversation. Openings involving jokes, empty compliments and sexual references received poor ratings. Those revealing, e.g., helpfulness, generosity, athleticism, ‘culture’ and wealth, were highly rated. Although the length of the vignette–confounded here with item content–affected the rating, differences remained after the effects of length were eliminated. The success of openings which demonstrated culture was predicted from Miller’s (2000) ‘mating mind’ hypothesis; the success of others could be predicted from patterns of parental investment.
Here is the paper, and further discussion, including an audio recording of the author. Here are some examples of the pick-up lines used. My personal view is that demeanor and dress matter more than what you say or more than looks for that matter. I also suspect that respondents are trying to look good in the eyes of the surveyors, and that "non-cultured" (my polite term) pick-up lines work only with personal delivery and in direct life context, not on paper. So all you nerds out there, don’t waste your time talking about the Steinway.