The findings showed that men's helpfulness increased along with the height of the heels a woman was wearing.

However, heel height had no influence on other women's willingness to help, found lead researcher Nicolas Gueguen from Universit de Bretagne-Sud in France.

To reach this conclusion, Gueguen set out to conduct field experiments to test the influence of different shoe styles on men's helping behaviour.

He watched what happened when a woman in flat shoes asked people to complete a survey, and whether or not they complied more readily when she was wearing high heels.

He also tested whether or not people's spontaneous urge to help changed when the same woman again wearing shoes with different heel sizes dropped a glove.

In the final experiment, Guguen found that men in a bar were quicker to start chatting with a woman wearing heels than when she was wearing flat shoes.

"Women's shoe heel size exerts a powerful effect on men's behaviour," Gueguen added.

He believes that more research must be done to examine whether this effect depends on a woman's shoe heel size and on any change of gait due to wearing high heels.

"Because sexy female models often wear such shoes in the media, men have started to associate the wearers of high-heeled shoes with those having sexual intent," the author speculated.

The study appeared in Springer's journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour.

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