Men liked being taller than their partners, but they didn’t care about the height difference as much as women did.
As it turns out, people do tend to partner with people of similar height due to a phenomenon known as assortative mating.
In an intriguing 2013 study, Dutch psychologists Gert Stulp, Abraham Buunk, and Thomas Pollet followed up on some of their earlier work on male height to find out more about what leads women to prefer those lanky guys.
They were also curious to learn how and why people are satisfied with their own height.
They estimated their own height, and reported on their sex, ethnicity (most were Dutch or German), and reported on their sexual orientation.
The rest of the questions, simply enough, asked them to report on their relationship status, the height of their partner, the satisfaction with their own height, and their satisfaction with the height of their partners.
As proponents of a biosocial gender approach argue, the two sets of influences are completely, and utterly, intertwined.
There was also a very practical reason that motivated Stulp and his team to investigate height preferences.
Such treatments can involve considerable risk, expense, and subsequent resentment from their height-manipulated offspring.This then becomes translated into social attitudes.We’re all conditioned by media images to prefer men and women with a certain kind of appearance.However, I would argue that tall women are portrayed highly favorably in the celebrity world from models to Hollywood actresses, and that these images actually may be having a positive effect on women who might otherwise feel that they are “too tall” for their man.Unfortunately, in the area of personal satisfaction, there was some bad news from this study for short men, who- like the shorter women- reported being dissatisfied with their height.Second, being “looked up to,” quite literally, may at some subconscious level lead taller men to feel that they have superior qualities.Third, and most importantly from a scientific perspective, we simply don’t have the experimental cause-and-effect data to back up the idea that social attitudes and not the caveman explanation are behind any particular set of mating advantages being conferred to taller men.These findings are consistent with the data from other studies showing that tall men enjoy an advantage in self-esteem and happiness.Here again, the authors link the dissatisfaction of the shorter men to the fact that women prefer tall men.How do all these partner differences translate to personal satisfaction?The findings for women were surprising in light of the partner preference data.