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Psychologists Paul Morris, Jenny White, Edward Morrison and Kayleigh Fisher from the University of Portsmouth, in the UK, have recently proposed a novel evolutionary theory about why women favor high heels.
As women normally walk differently from men, high heels may help exaggerate the particularly feminine aspects of gait.
But if wearing high heels makes women more attractive, allowing them to be more choosy over a larger number of higher quality males competing for their attention, this could explain the evolutionary advantages of this fashion statement.
What's chic, what's in and what's out, should be predicted by evolutionary theory.
But there have been numerous fashions that have not been congruent with an evolutionary model.
For example, female shoulder pads in the 1980s emphasized a particularly male aspect of the body.
In their recent study, entitled "High heels as supernormal stimuli: How wearing high heels affects judgements of female attractiveness", the psychologists compared ratings of women walking in ﬂat shoes, with the same women walking in high heels, in order to establish whether or not walking in high heels enhances the attractiveness of gait.
The authors of this new study contend that high heels appear to act in a similar way to what is referred to in evolutionary theory as a "super releaser." For example, some birds prefer large artificial eggs that they cannot even sit on, to their own normal size eggs.
Female baboons with a larger than normal swelling of the bottom associated with the sexually receptive period of their cycle, arouse greater sexual interest in males.
High heels similarly exaggerate the sex-speciﬁc aspects of the female walk which could cause sexual arousal in males.
The normal stimulus of a woman walking is exaggerated by the wearing of high heels, producing a supernormal stimulus.
by Raj Persaud and Professor Adrian Furnham High heels are fashionable, but uncomfortable, and can even lead to chronic foot damage.