If any woman was ever in doubt about the transformative power of a good pair of six-inch heels, now there’s a study to prove it. A first of its kind, the study was conducted by French researcher Nicolas Guéguen of the Université de Bretagne-Sud in France and published in the journal, Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Guéguen collected empirical data to test a man’s willingness to help a woman based on the size of her heels by observing how men aged between 25-50 reacted towards four different young female test subjects wearing shoes of varying height. In a series of experiments, Guéguen tested shoes with 0, 5cm and 9cm heels.
In the first experiment, a 19-year-old female subject in smart casual attire (black skirt, white shirt, black suit jacket) asked 90 men to respond to a short survey on gender equality. The participants were chosen at random while walking alone in a pedestrian area on the south coast of Brittany, France. The subject wore three kinds of shoes throughout the experiment: one with flat heels, a second with 5cm heels, and a third with 9cm heels. She positioned herself in front of a store and approached different male participants by asking them to answer a 3-4 minute survey.
In a second experiment, Guéguen used four subjects, all female, of the same height and foot size. The subjects wore clothes and shoes identical to the subject in the first experiment. This time, however, subjects were instructed to ask both men and women to participate in the survey. Roughly 180 men and 180 were randomly selected. The same experiment was repeated again, only this time, men and women were observed walking behind a female subject who was instructed to drop a glove and continue walking.
Finally, in a fourth experiment, 36 men between the ages of 20-28 were observed throughout the course of a few nights in three different bars in the same town as they approached young female subjects with varying heel sizes. A man’s behavior was only considered “contact” if he expressed some kind of verbal desire to speak to the subject, awkward pick-up lines included.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Guéguen found that men’s willingness to answer survey questions, return a lost glove or approach a woman in a bar increased along with the size of her heels. Also not surprising was the revelation that heel size has absolutely no affect on members of the same sex—the random female participants in the study showed no preference for helping female subjects with higher heels.
Guéguen argues the results of his study confirm what many of us instinctively knew: that physical attributes have a significant impact on men’s decision to interact with members of the opposite sex.