SCIENCE
11/20/2014 03:22 pm ET Updated Nov 22, 2014

High Heels Have A Strange Effect On Men, And Here's Proof

Seb Oliver via Getty Images

Listen up, ladies.

Flats may be all the rage these days, but a provocative new study from France suggests that high heels do a better job of helping women get what they want from men.

Women’s shoe heel size exerts a powerful effect on men’s behavior,” Dr. Nicolas Guéguen, a psychologist at the Université de Bretagne-Sud in Rennes, and the scientist behind the study, said in a written statement.

The finding might not come as a huge surprise to women, but Guéguen said his is the first scientific study to test the effect.

For the four-part study, Guéguen asked four female confederates to wear flats or two- or four-inch heels and make note of their interactions with unfamiliar men.

In one experiment, the women stood on the street and asked passersby to complete a survey. When the women were wearing flats, 25 out of 60 men (42 percent) agreed to pause and take the survey. When the women wore two-inch heels, 36 of 60 men (60 percent) agreed to take the survey. And that number spiked to 49 out of 60 men (82 percent) when the women wore the four-inchers.

Female passersby stopped to complete the survey around a third of the time, no matter how high the confederates' heels were.

In another experiment, the confederates dropped a glove on the street and noted whether men retrieved it for them.

What happened this time? Again, the same pattern emerged--with men playing the gentleman about 62 percent of the time when the confederates wore flats, and a whopping 93 percent of time when they wore high heels.

As for why high heels have this power over men, Guéguen offered a simple explanation: heels simply make women more attractive to men. And he proved this hypothesis in a follow-up study, as yet unpublished, in which men shown the body profiles of women in flats or heels tended to think the heel-wearing women were more attractive.

"High heels were associated with greater sexiness, overall physical attractiveness, breast attractiveness, beauty, attractiveness to other men, and willingness for a date," he told The Huffington Post in an email.

Previous research has shown that high heels change a woman's gait and posture to make her appear more feminine, signaling she's fit for reproduction. And according to Guéguen, exposure to media images associating high heels to glamour and sexuality may also shape men's preferences.

"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," Guéguen wrote in a paper describing his resarch, which was published on Nov. 19 in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.

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