Dr Ed Morrison, who led the study, said: “A combination of small waist, rounded hips and bottom, and a slim figure have long been reported to be important in women’s attractiveness, but it turns out the way a woman moves is as important.
“Most previous research into what makes a body attractive has relied on photographs, but in real life we usually see a potential mate moving. Motion is also crucial in courtship behaviors like dancing.
Dr Morrison added: “The results suggested that movement is as important as static measurements in gauging attractiveness, which was surprising because everyday experience suggests you can see easily how attractive someone is from a photograph.
“I’m not sure why a particular walking style is considered attractive but gait might be giving away important clues to a woman’s fitness and age – key components of reproductive health.”
It is unclear whether women can fake their walk to make it more attractive.
Dr Morrison said: “It would be interesting to test if people can actively change their movement to attract or deter mates – using such knowledge is similar in evolutionary psychology terms to a woman wearing red lipstick or eyeliner, both of which directly mimic signals of fertility, youth or health.”