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Men more responsive toward women in high heels, study says

Valuable scientific money and manpower is spent analyzing whether high heels affect human behavior. Yes, of course these were French researchers.

Is it just the height of a heel that attracts men? Or is there a more exalted explanation? Madiheels/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Scientific research can sometimes instantly alter our perceptions of the world.

Why, without research we'd have never discovered that saturated fat is so bad for us. Nor would we have discovered that saturated fat isn't so bad for us after all.

So I confess to having been rendered mute and physically imbalanced by a study that sought to learn the effect on men of women wearing high heels.

You might think this a frivolous matter. You might also think that this study must have been conducted in France. I shared those instincts when I first heard about it.

However, the conclusions of the study still offer depth. For example, a woman in high heels who drops her glove on the street is almost 50 percent more likely to receive male help than a woman wearing flats.

The researchers -- from the Universite de Bretagne Sud in France -- insist that it musta' been the shoes. I hesitate. Why couldn't it have been because the men thought a woman in high heels would simply have far more difficulty bending low than a woman in teeny Tory Burches?

"Ah, non," say the researchers. "We have other exalted examples." As the Associate Press reports, the study showed that any woman who wants to detain a man by stopping him in the street to answer a survey has a better than 50 percent chance of attracting his attention if she wears heels.

In a bar -- at least a French bar -- a woman in heels will be picked up by a man twice as fast as a woman sticking to her true height.

Of course, these hardy scientists put this down to heels creating mere skin-depth. I know this because the AP quotes the study's author, behavioral scientist Nicolas Gueguen, as saying: "Simply put, they make women more beautiful."

Oh, Nicolas, you worry me. Your study's high-heeled objects of desire were 19-year-old girls and the men were aged 25-50. Dare one suggest that, say, high heels make only 19-year-old girls look more attractive? Or would that be too reductive? Could it be that women of more advanced years offer far wider and more nuanced reasons to be interesting and alluring to men?

Moreover, there are heels and there are heels. Those worn by, say, exotic dancers offer a very different nuance of attraction than those worn by, say, Eva Longoria or Kate Middleton.

Or am I desperately waving a fading lightsaber against evolutionary imperatives of some kind?

There were three levels of heel examined here: 0.2 inches, 2.0 inches and 3.5 inches. The 3.5s allegedly carried the day every time.

I wonder, though, whether the women selected all happened to be those who looked good in high heels. Not everyone does, just as not every man can carry off a beige silk suit, nor every priest a purple lamé cassock.

Ultimately, these scientists stand (tall) behind their study. Research has struck again and now you must observe in your own exciting lives whether its conclusions are true.

Meanwhile, a cure for many diseases is still being sought.