Study into the evolution of human behaviour

Research at the University of Portsmouth (RI) looked at how women walking in both high heels and flats were perceived by others in terms of their age, femininity, and attractiveness. Participants movements while walking in both types of shoes were recorded using point-light displays that created an outline of different points on their legs. Males and females were asked to identify the sex of the walker (even though they were all female) and judge their attractiveness. Scores for age, femininity, and attractiveness were combined into a composite score labeled attractiveness. Walkers in heels were unanimously chosen as more attractive, while a greater portion of walkers were mis-identified as males when moving in flats. Walkers with a higher BMI were rated as less attractive in both flats and heels. Gaits of walkers in heels showed smaller steps were taken along with exaggerated pelvic movements. The study concludes a more feminine gait in high heels is perceived as most attractive, however it may be attributed to the attitude of the shoe wearer rather than the shoe alone.