High heels scientifically proven to increase women’s attractiveness.

By Seriously Science | December 11, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/fashionbyhe

Photo: flickr/fashionbyhe

If you’ve ever worn high heels, you know that most people don’t wear them for fun. They tend to hurt your feet and cause all kinds of foot and ankle problems for women who wear them often. Clearly, people torture themselves with footwear because they think it makes them more attractive. But does it? Well, this researcher (who you might recognize from such classics as “Bust size and hitchhiking: a field study“) took it upon himself to scientifically test this hypothesis. He had a “19-year-old female confederate” wear shoes with varying heights of heels and tested whether people were more likely to help her by filling out a survey or picking up a dropped glove. As you might have guessed, the heels did make a difference: the higher the heels, the more likely men–but not women–were to help. In the final experiment, the woman sat in a bar and timed how long it took before a man hit on her. On average it took 7 minutes for a man to hit on the woman in high heels, but 13 minutes for the same woman in low heels (in case you were wondering, the study was done in France). The author concludes by speculating on the reasons that high heels make a woman more attractive: Do they make her feet smaller and youthful-looking? Do people just associate high heels with sexiness? In our opinion, he left out an important possibility: maybe people just feel sorry for someone hobbled, even if they did it to themselves.

High Heels Increase Women’s Attractiveness

“Research has found that the appearance of women’s apparel helps increase their attractiveness as rated by men and that men care more about physical features in potential opposite-sex mates. However, the effect of sartorial appearance has received little interest from scientists. In a series of studies, the length of women’s shoe heels was examined. A woman confederate wearing black shoes with 0, 5, or 9 cm heels asked men for help in various circumstances. In Study 1, she asked men to respond to a short survey on gender equality. In Study 2, the confederate asked men and women to participate in a survey on local food habit consumption. In Study 3, men and women in the street were observed while walking in back of the female confederate who dropped a glove apparently unaware of her loss. It was found that men’s helping behavior increased as soon as heel length increased. However, heel length had no effect on women’s helping behavior. It was also found that men spontaneously approached women more quickly when they wore high-heeled shoes (Study 4). Change in gait, foot-size judgment, and misattribution of sexiness and sexual intent were used as possible explanations.”

Related content:
Should you compliment a woman before asking her out? Science weighs in.
NCBI ROFL: Bust size and hitchhiking: a field study
NCBI ROFL: Women’s bust size and men’s courtship solicitation.

  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    High heels do at least three things:

    1) Bunched calf muscle (gastrocnemius) re toe curling.
    2) Mammalian lordosis.
    3) When displayed properly, elongate the leg “long-stemmed American beauty”)

    (1) and (2) are signs of proximate sexual receptivity. (3) indicates reproductive vigor. Engineering a project quickly requires a parts sheet and its quality assurance parameters. These include swollen lips, darkened eyelids, and a blushed upper chest.

  • ejhaskins

    Just as bound feet used to make Chinese women more attractive? !!!
    It is a *fashion* thingie.
    To see if there is anything innately attractive about high heel, you would need to run the research with men who come from a culture where high heels are never see.
    And with women from the same culture — because in our culture women who wear high heels do so because they believe that it makes them more ‘sexy’ and they are trying consciously to look sexy.
    I suspect that it also signals to the males that this woman is available.
    It is after all, standard practice to show nudes wearing high heels in “Men Only” magazines.

    • JaimeIslandGuy

      actually the roots of what is going on with high heels are the opposite of fashion.

      It does several things to the body that are innate sexual cues in primates and humans.

      And foot binding is a different kind of thing altogether. Like long fingernails it is a status cue, (can’t do much physical labor with them). Pale skin used to be a status cue (not working the fields) and now a tan is a status cue (surplus money for travel/vacation)

      • ejhaskins

        I think that high heels and bound feet are very similar.
        They indicate, amongst other things that the wearer does not need to work for a living.
        But I do agree re the accentuating sexual cues. That is they signal that the female is ‘available”. Like bright re lipstick, cleavages.
        I suppose the that if you think giving out signal of ‘sexually available’ is the height of true attractiveness, then you cannot go a beyond a naked woman wearing high heels and bright red lipstick.
        All depends though on just whom you want to attract!

  • Overburdened_Planet

    So, men are more attracted to taller women? 😉

    • JaimeIslandGuy

      no legs lengthen proportional to the body in women at sexual maturity. That is a sexual cue and innately attractive. the most common Photoshop in women’s fashion magazines after skin blemish removal is a 10% elongation of the legs

      high heels also cant the buttocks outward a receptivity cue.

      • Overburdened_Planet

        My question was meant to be sarcastic, but do go on with your interpretation of ‘science.’

        The female body grows proportionally?


        High heels are correlative to sexual cues?

        Are you a cultural critic or expert?

        Do you have any links to support your claims?

        • Sarah Levin

          I suggest you look up “sarcasm” IN a dictionary. Unless you think it means to prove yourself illiterate you made yourself a fool.

          Any basic human biology tome will tell you that relative leg length in the human female increases at sexual maturity.

          • Overburdened_Planet

            Explain exactly how I would disagree with your understanding of biology.

            This isn’t about “relative leg length in the human female increases at sexual maturity.”

            It’s about an artificial and cultural construct.

            If it was only about biology, then explain how high heels play a role.

            Part of the article’s title is “Seriously, Science?”

            And reread the entire exchange between JaimeIslandGuy and me.

            It was meant as sarcasm, and you assumed and accused instead of asking or confirming.

            What’s your problem?

            Focus on the facts and not your misguided feelings.

  • JonFrum

    1. Girls experience a growth spurt in puberty that extends their lower leg length relative to their height = sign of sexual maturity/reproductive availability.

    2. Heels make your butt stick out and send your hips into overdrive when walking.

    3. Having experienced both without necessarily noticing consciously, men associate the shoes themselves with 1 and 2 above.

    Regarding the claimed relationship between three inch heels and foot binding – a gross deformation of the body – millions of American women have worn heels to work every day for years without being crippled. They’re not for everyone, but once you develop the skill to walk in them, a well-fitting pair of heels won’t kill you. As a man, when I get home from work in my work boots, my dogs are killing me. No one ever said work boots are a form of torture.

  • Histiletto

    Most styles of high heels are very alluring and elegant mobile pedestals with profiling lines that help to present and bring attention to the wearers they support. Although women are the socially assigned wearers, men also have the same tastes and desires and are wearing heels for the way they accent their appearance and outfits. Due to their unique construction, a person has to relearn how to walk and become familiar with how they need to feel for the best and most comfortable fit, just as toddlers had to learn how to walk in their first fitted footwear. Wearing high heels without properly preparing, may get you to the activity, but in a little while the wearer only want to take them off and is left thinking such beauty isn’t worth it. So breaking the heels in way before the intended event is essential to having wonderful experiences walking gracefully and being confident you and your feet feel and look their best. As a devoted wearer of high heels, there aren’t many better experiences that are definitely well worth the time and effort.


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