SCIENCE

New Study: Women Wearing Heels Can Get Men to Do Things

Nov 20, 2014 at 8:52 AM ET

For most of us, Kim Kardashian’s unshakeable dedication to stilettos is difficult to rationalize. She’s worn them while pregnant, to a state fair, to basketball games and to many other events where teetering around in sky-high heels seems entirely inappropriate. But according to a new study by the Université de Bretagne-Sud in France, she may at least have one good reason for sticking with her Louboutins: Men tend to be more helpful to women who are wearing heels.

“Women’s shoe heel size exerts a powerful effect on men’s behavior,” says Nicolas Guéguen, the study’s author.

Guéguen conducted several field experiments to measure this effect, and in all three instances, men were more willing to lend a hand to heel-wearing women than those in sensible flats.

In the first case, Guéguen had women in both heels and flats try to solicit surveys from people on the street and found that men more easily complied when the woman was wearing heels. In the second test, Guéguen had the same woman drop a glove while wearing different shoes, and he observed similar behavior—when the woman was wearing heels, men were more inclined to pick up her glove. In the final experiment, Guéguen observed men in a bar and found that they were quicker to chat with women in pumps or stilettos than those who decided to give their feet a break.

Guéguen sees his results as further proof that men focus primarily on physical attributes when it comes to interacting with the opposite sex, though he acknowledges that more research must be done to determine exactly what about heels makes men so easily manipulated.

The media certainly plays a role here—heels are often associated with models, attractive celebrities and sexiness in general—and evolutionary forces could even be at play. A study conducted last year concluded that the way a woman walks in heels makes her appear more feminine by exaggerating the movement of her hips and shortening her strides, thereby making her seem like a more attractive mate.

In other words, women who wear heels may appear more inclined to have sex. Lucky you, Kanye!