A recent study published in Personality and Individual Differences found that women are perceived as more sexually and physically attractive, feminine and of a higher status when wearing high heels.
Researchers from Bucknell University surveyed a group of 448 participants, who were shown two silhouettes of women with or without high heels.
The group was then asked to make assumptions about the women. They were asked to rate the women on a myriad of characteristics, including their physical attractiveness, sexual attractiveness, dominance, strength, warmth, enthusiasm, trustworthiness, nurturance, masculinity, femininity, social competence, affectionateness, friendliness, overall good mate potential, short-term mate potential, long-term mate potential, parenting ability, health, intelligence, success and status.
The woman in high heels was perceived as being more sexually attractive, physically attractive, feminine and of higher status by the majority of those surveyed.
But when it comes to perception of socioeconomics, male and female opinions differed.
In particular, women rated other women as having a higher status regardless of the shoe. Meanwhile, men rated women as having higher short- and long-term mating potential than women did, regardless of the shoe.
“While women’s fashion constantly evolves, this research aligns well with previous research that men perceive women in high heels as more attractive than those in flat shoes,” the report read.
However, wearing high heels did not have women interpreted as more dominant, strong, warm, enthusiastic, trustworthy, nurturing, socially competent, healthy, intelligent, affectionate, friendly or successful.
Unlike some other articles of women’s clothing and accessories, the researchers claimed high heels do not seem to objectify and sexualize women.
“These findings indicate that high heels do not signal any personality traits, or cues to health or intelligence,” the report read.
“Sexualized women are perceived to be less mentally capable, less competent and less deserving of moral status,” researchers explained. “These decreases were not found in the current study, which leads us to conclude that high heels are not sexualized as compared to other forms of sexy or revealing clothing.”
The study concluded that the increased perception of attractiveness might have to do with changing the wearer’s lumbar (spinal) curve, which gives their breast and buttocks a lift to appear perkier.