We had a feeling that study about men finding high heels to be sexier was b*llsh*t <3
A new report published in Ars Technica is disproving the work of a psychologist whose studies often reinforcing gender and sexuality stereotypes have been cited by publications from The Atlantic to The New York Times. If you’ve seen a study in recent years suggesting that “Science Proves It: Men Really Do Find High Heels Sexier,” or that men consider women wearing red to be more attractive, many of those findings are now being called into question.
Psychologist Nicholas Guéguen publishes studies that generate extremely clickable headlines. You know it doesn’t *really* matter, but there’s a part of you that can’t help but wonder if…you should wear red heels tonight. Now, it’s coming out that Guéguen’s brand of pop social psychology may be steeped in a litany of statistical and ethical problems.
Since 2015, two scientists, James Heathers and Nick Brown, have been examining Guéguen’s findings and found that, as Ars Technica reported, “the data is too perfectly regular or full of oddities, making it difficult to understand how it could have been generated by the experiment described by Guéguen.”
The scientists contacted the French Psychological Society about their concerns, and the society offered to act as a mediator between the scientists and Guéguen. After two years of receiving “unsatisfactory responses” from the researcher, the organization has essentially thrown their hands up. Now, Heathers and Brown are releasing details of their concerns to the scientific community in order to avoid painstakingly long official procedures.
The very brief TL;DR is that Guéguen publishes studies at a suspiciously prolific rate considering how many articles he is also listed as the sole author on. The scientist duo also described the numbers as “strangely regular” — an example can be found in Guéguen’s study testing whether women’s hairstyles influenced people’s inclination to be helpful.
The paper reports that men were more likely to help her if her hair was loose, with an average helpfulness score of 2.8. Hair in a ponytail or bun, however, both had a helpfulness score of 1.8 from men. For women, it made no difference: hair in a ponytail or bun had a score of 1.6, and loose hair was slightly higher at 1.8. The difference wasn’t statistically significant.
Guéguen’s body of work has a strange way of reinforcing gender stereotypes, which is particularly dangerous because these “findings” can be taken to the extreme of rape-victim blaming. The report is long (though it’s a worthwhile read), and it can be found in full here. Meanwhile, women will be sitting with our arms crossed glaring Guéguen’s direction.