Men are more likely to be helpful toward women when they are wearing high heels than when they are wearing flat shoes, according to a new study.
Published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, the study reveals that men are more likely to pay attention to women and be quicker to help them when they are wearing high heels than when they are wearing flat shoes.
Study author Nicolas Guéguen, of the Université de Bretagne-Sud in France, notes that past research has shown that a woman's appearance - including their body size and style of clothing - can influence a man's behavior toward them.
But he says only one study has looked at how the size of women's shoe heels affect men's attitudes. As such, he set out to investigate further.
The study consisted of four experiments. In the first experiment - which involved 90 men - Guéguen analyzed their responses to a 19-year-old woman wearing either flat shoes or high heels after she asked them to complete a survey on gender equality.
In a second experiment - involving 180 women and 180 men - four women wearing either flat shoes or high heels asked participants to complete a survey on local food habit consumption.
In a third experiment, Guéguen assessed the helpfulness of 180 men and 180 women when a woman dropped a glove in the street while wearing high heels and while wearing flat shoes.
The final experiment took place in a bar, where Guéguen monitored the behavior of 36 young men toward women who were wearing flat shoes and women who were wearing heels.
Men may associate women who wear high heels with sexual intent
Results of the study revealed that in the first three experiments, men were more likely to help women when they were wearing high heels than when they were wearing flat shoes.
In the fourth experiment, men were quicker to approach women in a bar who were wearing high heels than those wearing flat shoes. A woman's heel height was found to have no impact on the helpfulness of other women.
Based on his findings, Guéguen believes that a woman's shoe heel size "exerts a powerful effect on men's behavior," and the study provides more evidence that a woman's appearance affects how men interact with the opposite sex.
Guéguen points out that one explanation for these findings may be that men associate women who wear high heels with sexual intent, possibly because this is the impression given off through the use attractive female models wearing high heels in the media
"Research has found that men generally overestimate female sexual interest, especially when examining their clothing appearance. Thus, the over-association of high heels with women's sexiness and sexual content could lead men to misinterpret the sexual intent of women with high heels.
This misinterpretation of sexual intent associated with shoe appearance could explain why men were more ready to accept their survey request, to help them spontaneously or to approach them in a bar."
Another explanation, Guéguen says, is that women's gait - the way they walk - changes when wearing high heels, which may increase their attractiveness for men. "Previous research examining female nonverbal behavior reported that subtle variations, including gait, were associated with variations in men attractiveness judgment and behavior," he notes.
Guéguen says that such explanations are hypothetical, however, and further research is warranted to confirm what drives men to be more helpful toward a woman wearing high heels.
Last year, Medical News Today reported the creation of a 3D scanner by researchers from the Royal National Orthopedic Hospital in the UK, which revealed the damage high heels can cause to the feet and ankles.