A pair of 4-inch heels can make the difference between being a wallflower and being the center of attention in a room. High heels add the finishing touch to any ensemble, making them a girl’s best friend. According to a recent study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, women who wear high heels are found to be significantly sexier to men.

"Women's shoe heel size exerts a powerful effect on men's behavior," said Nicolas Gueguen, lead author of the study from the department of social behavior at the University of Bretagne, according to the press release.

Heels force the pelvis to tilt so that your backside and your chest stick out more in comparison to flats. This elongates the female body and accentuates one of the most desirable traits found by men: long legs.

From an evolutionary standpoint, a woman’s leg length is tied to the state of her health and fertility. A 2008 study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior found leg length is a good indicator of nutrition, since legs stop growing once women reach puberty. If a woman has long legs, she most likely grew up in a good environment, which can yield a positive effect on fertility.

Gueguen sought to observe the effect of sartorial appearance by conducting a series of four studies on the length of women’s shoe heels. In three out of the four studies, the French female participants were identically dressed in black suits with straight skirts and white shirts. Most of the participants were all brunettes because previous studies showed that men were more likely to approach blonde women over brunettes and ask them out on dates. The only noticeable difference among these women were their shoes.

The first three studies involved a woman confederate wearing black shoes with no heel, a 2-inch heel, or black pumps with a 3.5-inch heel asking men for help in various circumstances. The woman switched shoes after soliciting every 10 people.

In the first study, the women asked men to respond to a short survey on gender equality. The findings revealed women garnered the most responses when wearing the highest heels, with 83 percent of the men approached agreeing to spend three to four minutes answering questions. In comparison, 47 percent answered the questions when women wore flats.

Gueguen was curious as to whether this pattern could be seen when four women approached both men and women to answer some survey questions. The second study asked men and women to participate in a survey on local food habit consumption. Similar to the first study, men were more likely to respond when the women wore the highest heels — 3.5 inches — with a rate of 82 percent compared to their flat counterparts who only got 42 percent to say yes to the survey request. However, only 33 percent of women agreed to answer the survey, regardless of their heel height.

Since the men in both studies were receptive, Gueguen sought to test his obvious attraction hypothesis by observing men and women who were walking in back of the female participant. For the third study, the women were asked to walk ahead of the “targets” and then drop a glove in an oblivious fashion. The findings revealed 93 percent of men chased after the women when they wore high heels to return the glove, while only 62 percent did when she wore flat shoes. In this scenario, women were also more likely to track down the high-heeled women than their flat counterparts by 52 percent and 43 percent, respectively.

In the fourth and final study, Gueguen wanted to observe if high heels actually make men more likely to pursue a woman as a romantic interest. He strategically placed women wearing different heel heights in three bars as he sat them at tables near the bar where their shoes were visible to those standing and walking around the area. It took men about eight minutes to approach a woman wearing heels compared to those wearing flats, which took about 14 minutes.

Although science may have given some credibility to the sex appeal of high heels, Gueguen himself isn’t sure why heels make a woman more attractive. He suspects changes in walk and posture make her appear more feminine. He told Time, “As a man I can see that I prefer to see my wife when she wears high heels, and many men in France have the same evaluation.”

Gueguen’s study warrants further research to accurately determine whether this effect is contingent on a woman’s shoe heel size and on any change of strut because of the high heels. Whether it’s the high heels or the new ounce of confidence has yet to be determined. Regardless, remember ladies:You may be able to get your way wearing your favorite pair of heels.

Sources:

Gueguen N. High Heels Increase Women’s Attractiveness. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 2014.

Pawlowski B and Sorokowski P. Adaptive preferences for leg length in a potential partner. Evolution and Human Behavior. 2008.