High heels make women more attractive to men, research finds.
The higher the high heels were, the more helpful men were — indicating they were looking for an excuse to talk to her.
Men were also quicker to approach a woman wearing high heels in a bar.
For the series of studies, a female researcher either wore flats, 5 cm heels or 9 cm heels.
She then asked men and women in the street to fill in a survey.
The heel height made no difference to the rate at which women agreed to fill in the survey.
However, men were most likely to agree to the survey when she wore 9 cm heels.
In a third study a female researcher appeared to drop a glove in the street accidentally.
When she wore flats, 62% of passing men picked it up for her.
When she wore 9 cm high heels, though, 93% of passing men helped her out.
The heels made little difference to passing women, with only around 50% helping her out.
Professor Nicolas Guéguen, the study’s author, writes:
“In four experimental studies conducted in several field settings, we reported that the length of shoe heels worn by
women exerted an effect on men’s behavior.
Four times we observed that men more easily displayed social interaction with a woman wearing high heels.”
It is still not really known why high heels are attractive to men.
The study’s author suggests four reasons, the first three of which he rejects:
- It makes a woman’s foot look smaller, which in turn suggests youth. This doesn’t seem that likely.
- High heels make a woman taller. This is unlikely as men generally do not prefer taller women and the woman was seated in one study.
- High heels change the way women walk. Again, in one study, women were seated, so this doesn’t explain it.
The fourth is probably the best explanation: high heels are culturally fetishised.
In other words, high heels are linked in men’s minds to sex.
Perhaps they act like a signal that a woman is more receptive and, unconsciously, they feel they have a better chance with a woman wearing high heels.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior (Guéguen, 2014).