Why Tall Men Have Prettier Girlfriends: What science tells us about height and attraction, the ceiling effect, why 6 feet tall is the benchmark and why you should date women shorter than you.
It’s a fact of life. Height is just one of those things we can do very little, if anything, about, and yet it is so very important in dating and attraction. I will go through a variety of points to show you exactly how important it is and what researchers have found about the preferences women have when it comes to this quality. The end result might bring tears, but there is no sense ignoring good hard science. By acknowledging the reality of the situation, you can use your approaches on women more selectively and sparingly, you can employ lifts in your shoes or you can use one of those stretching machines! Really, there isn’t a whole lot that can be done to fix inherent height issues, but by knowing about their existence, you can modify your “game” and end up more successful in dating. Acting according to what the science says is the best way to work most efficiently. Without wasting any more time, let’s get straight into the research.
According to Hartfeil and Sprechler (1986) height is one of the most important characteristics determining overall physical attractiveness as determined by women. I doubt that any reasonable person would refute this statement. However, at the same time, one may not understand the extent of its importance. The male taller norm is the cardinal rule of dating. Gillis and Avis (1980) took information collected from bank account applications and found that only 2 couples out of 720 consisted of a pair in which the woman was taller than the man. This is an outstandingly large number. This means that you have less than a one percent chance of courting and marrying a woman who is taller than you. Having a small chance does not mean no chance at all though. Being shorter simply means that you are going to have to work harder to get a woman who is taller. Tall women are looking for the same qualities as short women after all. However, if she is taller than you, she will expect more in terms of resources and power to make up for the height difference.
In a study by Hensley (1994) women preferred a man who was 72 inches (183 cm) tall as a benchmark. The preference for the six foot tall man is overwhelming, says Hensley. In his study, consisting of 145 females, 32 percent reported this as their preferred height. Thirty-two percent is not everyone, and most certainly not the majority, so this statistic might give you hope! The 68 percent of women who don’t prefer the 6 foot tall man are also potential suitors, and must be considered. However, fundamentally there are even fewer that are suitable for you because some of these women might prefer men who are taller or even shorter than you regardless of what height you happen to be, further shrinking your pool of eligible women. Here comes the better news. In a study by Cameron (1978) it was found that 100 percent of the women advertised the desire to date a man who was 4 inches taller than themselves. Hensley’s (1994) study, mentioned above, showed that on average, women and men both prefer the man to be 2 to 3 inches taller than the woman in a relationship. Why is this news better? It’s better for the simple fact that it destroys the 6 foot tall benchmark rule. That is, men aren’t at a huge disadvantage just because they aren’t all 6 feet tall. Men simply must be taller then the women they seek. It is much easier to change your target date than it is to change your height! Furthermore, a study by Shepperd and Strathman (1989) revealed that 95 percent of the female participants preferred a taller man, 3 percent the same height and 2 percent preferred males shorter than themselves. Therefore it suggests that it is not the absolute height but rather the relative height that matters the most. Finally, we have something to work from! If we accept this information, and we should, than we also accept that you and I, and everyone else, will have a far better chance of getting what we want from a woman who is shorter than ourselves.
As you might expect, height has been shown to be more important to men than to women’s attractiveness. So why is it that women find height to be so important? Beigel’s (1954) study showed that people attribute everything from dominance, superiority, fearlessness, protectiveness, ambitiousness, leadership qualities, athleticism and sheer physical strength to tall people over shorter people. Tall men also tended to command attention from others, which women found appealing.
If all this wasn’t enough, tall men also get other societal fringe benefits. Not only is height important in dating, it has also been shown that taller men (about 6 feet 2 inches and over) have higher starting salaries. They are also more likely to be hired in the first place, particularly by sales recruiters. They are more often selected as leaders and chosen for corporate training programs.
So if you are short what can you do about it? Not a hell of a lot, that’s for sure! You must at least accept that these rules apply. All the bitching in the world will never change this. Just accept it, and then deal with it. If you are short, get rich and powerful, then nothing else matters! If you are tall, enjoy the perks – at least until you get to the next paragraph where I will discuss the ceiling effect. There is one other bit of information that may be of assistance. It is taken from Wilson (1968) in Lerner and Moore (1974) who showed that height estimates were related to academic status. That is, as the man’s academic status increased, he was also judged to be taller. This means that if you make yourself out to be smarter or as having a more prestigious occupation, then you are more likely to be thought of as taller. Therefore, it is possible to boost your status to boost your perceived height, be it only temporarily. At the end of the night when you are standing face to face (or face to breast!) she will surely note your exact height regardless of your occupation.
Interestingly, there seems to be a “ceiling effect” where tall males (over 6 feet) suffer a decrease in fitness. That is, women tend to find extremely tall men less attractive. This has been noted by several researchers. Women tend to prefer men of a medium stature over really tall men or really short men. In a study by Graziano et. al. (1978) similar results showed that men of medium height (5’9″- 5’11″) were rated as more attractive over shorter (5’5″- 5’7″) or taller men (6’2″- 6’4″), regardless of the height of the women (4’10″- 6’1″). This means that if you aren’t average, or slightly above average, then you are going to have to work hard to attract mates.
No question, as the research shows, height is important in the dating marketplace. Men are dated more frequently when they are taller, have a social advantage over shorter men, and even have been shown to have prettier girlfriends. Therefore, searching for a mate is more difficult if you are short. However, if you are shorter, look on the bright side – women report dating men more frequently who are taller than themselves but do not necessarily rate them as better looking. I’m sure that really matters, right?
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