If the shoe fits? Using sexual selection theories to examine potential between-women and within- women variation in their responses to high heels

Christopher D. Watkins, Amanda Leitch

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

    Abstract

    High heels are cultural symbols of female sexuality and are ‘costly signals’ if the risks of wearing them are offset by improving women’s attractiveness to men. From a functionalist perspective, the costs versus benefits of wearing heels may vary according to personal and contextual factors, such as her effectiveness at same-sex competition for mates or trait- or state-level factors that predict the intensity of mating competition, such as when mating motivations are stronger. We conducted a series of studies to examine potential between-women variation (self-rated attractiveness, dyadic versus solitary sexual desire, chronological age, and competitive attitudes toward other women) and within-women variation (priming mating and competitive motives) in their responses to high heels. Here, attractive women were more oriented toward heeled shoes than their less-attractive peers were. When examining women’s responses to two shoes at the extremes of attractiveness (one higher-heel, one lower-heel) dyadic sexual desire, but not solitary sexual desire, predicted their inclination to buy the higher-heeled shoe. On average, young women chose high heels when primed with the scenario that they were free to buy any designer shoe (Study three: 95%CI[53.02mm, 67.37mm]), and preferred a heel 22mm (0.87”) higher than older women. Contrary to predictions, priming mating or competitive motives did not alter women’s preference toward a higher heel. Our studies suggest that attractive women augment their physical appeal via heels. High heels may be a subtle indicator of dyadic sexual desire, and preferences for heels are stronger at times in the lifespan when mating competition is relatively intense.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages88
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    EventInternational Society for Human Ethology: XXIV Biennal Conference on Human Ethology - Hotel Plaza San Francisco, Santiago, Chile
    Duration: 3 Sep 20187 Sep 2018
    http://ishe.org/chile-2018/

    Conference

    ConferenceInternational Society for Human Ethology
    Abbreviated titleISHE
    Country/TerritoryChile
    CitySantiago
    Period3/09/187/09/18
    Internet address

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