Height Preferences Are ΝΟΤ Instinctive

 Let me preface this with a disclaimer: even if nobody on Earth preferred short men, that’s technically allowed and within anyone’s choice (this is just hypothetical – a few women actually do prefer short men). However, the many reasons people use to explain why short men are so disliked are questionable to me, so I’m going to break this down.

Evolutionary psychology is usually the main reason people use to explain height preferences, so first I must question whether or not most women pick a 7 feet tall guy over a 6 feet tall one. I know some girls would, but if I had to bet on it, I believe most would pick the 6 foot one. If taller is simply better, why does the ideal height for men seem to cut off at a certain point? One could claim there simply aren’t enough 7 feet tall men around, but even when women could date these tall guys online, men around 7’0 tall statistically do worse than guys around 6’0. Even in fantasies where a woman could dream of anyone, I doubt these dream guys are usually 7 feet tall. It’d be interesting to know if most romance novels, even ones set in magical settings, have a giant male lead. Somehow I doubt it, but again, (biologically) what’s the problem with a super tall guy over a regular tall guy? How can one be “too tall” in a caveman setting?

Also, I don’t believe most lesbian or bisexual women require a fellow woman to be tall, so I also find this interesting. It’s not the height itself that’s attractive, it’s when it’s tied to a male. It’s not purely about sexual dimorphism either, because body hair, a big nose, baldness, etc. are typically male traits, yet they are not preferred. If human nature actually wanted to seek out “superior DNA,” both women and men would prefer tall people, thus eventually eliminating shortness from the gene pool. Instead, they used to inject tall girls with estrogen to prevent them from growing any further: [1][2]. This one study claims: «Results from the online survey indicate that women wanted tall men for a variety of reasons, but most of the explanations of our respondents were connected to societal expectations or gender stereotypes.»

One of the reasons short men even exist in abundance is because of short women. Short men would also not live longer on average if the short gene was so terrible. Excerpt from the study: “The folks that were 5-2 and shorter lived the longest. The range was seen all the way across from being 5-foot tall to 6-foot tall. The taller you got, the shorter you lived.” Why would supposedly superior DNA literally die off sooner?

I’ve seen research done on tribal cultures, and none of them care about height as much as modern society. When confronted with this, most people pass it off with something like, “these tribes are just so weird/few that they don’t count.” At least by admitting this, people acknowledge that culture can influence these preferences. See, our society labels assertive/ambitious short men as having “short man syndrome” or a “Napoleon Complex.” When it comes to some random tribe, they would have no idea what those labels even are. Simply from something like that, the social status of short men is improved. For another example, natives had no hierarchy for their totem poles, yet English speakers say “bottom of the totem pole” in a derogatory way, showing how differently cultures can view the same thing.

All in all, this whole evo psych thing is ironic since these tribes actually have to hunt, yet they care less about height than modern day Darwinists who sit around all day. Also keep in mind how just because many people do something, doesn’t mean it’s natural, like how humans are the only ones who regularly milk a different species then drink it. There’s also this page I found about differing height preferences by country:

“In general, a small man is twice as likely to be preferred by a women outside the United States as within. There are two possibilities. First, people in the Unites States are more superficial than in other countries. Second, women in the United States are taller and so prefer taller men… Except for the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, there does not appear to be a significant correlation between women’s height in a country and their preference for a tall man.”

Country 5′ 4″ man % in
Median Woman’s
United States
Hong Kong

Biologically, why would women in Russia or France care less about height? One can even see this in how those places have recently had short leaders, but America has not. At this juncture, I would love to make some point about the Anglosphere, and how we can trace this back to the days of spreading propaganda about Napoleon’s height. I would even point out the English language’s views on short people (vertically challenged, head and shoulders above, man of his stature, etc.), or talk about colonization/westernization, but Australian women also apparently care less about height, so who the hell knows what’s going on here. I would still firmly reiterate the point I made earlier about other cultures: no matter how biased they are about height, they do not label short men with syndromes and complexes.

On a different note, social status is also important: “a 2010 study found that men pictured with a Silver Bentley Continental GT were perceived as way more attractive than those pictures with a Red Ford Fiesta ST, and a 2014 study found that men pictured in a luxury apartment were rated more attractive than those in a control group. – Source

Here’s a video from some neuroscientists about how women value popularity. Quote:

«And women respond to other women’s opinion of a guy. The more women that are attracted to a man increases the attraction of that man. So the phrase, «The best men are always taken,» is doubly true. If a man is taken by definition he’s more attractive and appealing; if a man’s alone and isolated and solitary and nobody’s interested in him that will reduce his appeal just by virtue of not being taken.»

In fact, one sizable study found 90 percent of single women were interested in a man who they believed was taken, while a mere 59 percent wanted him when told he was single.

There’s a reason why famous short men suddenly seem more attractive. Sure, many of them are conventionally attractive in terms of face or physique, but if these famous guys were random short men on the street, would their own fangirls still love them? Maybe. Personally, I believe famous short men are attractive in the same way an expensive brand is, and of course tall men start off with more positive social status. It’s the same reason why many women “just happen” to prefer Caucasian men (at least that’s what both OK Cupid and Facebook stats found). If there was some alternate reality where black guys or whatever had the same social status, all of a sudden many women would be born with a “natural” preference for black men. I found some interesting talk about this here.

I’ve seen people actually get offended by the idea that social status can make a man seem more attractive to women, so think of it this way: if two guys were the same in looks, but one was a prince while the other a commoner, who would seem more enticing? If height is such a strong biological rule like everyone believes, a popular short actor or musician should still lose to a random tall guy at the bar or club, but I think we know who would have the upper hand there. Of course, a tall famous star has status upon status: money/fame along with height.

This is also why we sometimes see women who are okay with sleeping with a short man, but will not be seen dating him publicly, like here. Countless times I’ve seen girls talking about being embarrassed to date a short guy they like (emphasis on how they already like this short guy). It reminds me of videos I’ve seen where non-Asian women talked about dating Asian men. They said people would mockingly ask them things like, “so you like small dicks, huh?” All of this negative attention would annoy these girls so much that they started to question dating these guys. This is literally women admitting how peer pressure influences who they date. They would sooner risk getting impregnated by a short guy than be seen holding hands with him in public.

When it comes to how Asian men and black women are rated more poorly in dating, people have been conditioned to be politically correct about it. Instead of claiming “that’s just the way it is” or “we like what we like,” people blame media portrayals, stereotypes, etc. Considering how often short men are portrayed as losers, sidekicks, villains, and buffoons in the media, while tall men are the badasses and heroes, it’d be preposterous if that didn’t affect how attractive short men seem. In this video at the 9:09 mark, a woman literally says “You want to look up into his eyes. You want it to be like a movie.» To this day, people underestimate how much fiction warps expectations. In fact, this study claims the media is directly linked to how we view women’s bodies. What about men?

I’ve already written too much on this, so I’ll end by saying that if society’s height preference started off naturally, society has egged it on to unnatural levels. If height preferences/requirements operated even on an 80/20 ratio, I’d be less suspicious about it. Once it becomes more one-sided, especially varying by country, is that not a clear sign culture has something to do with it?

Hadza and height preference

Amongst the Hadza of Tanzania height doesn’t appear to be a factor in choosing a partner (How universal are human mate choices? Size doesn’t matter when Hadza foragers are choosing a mate, 2009). For example, the graph below shows the percentage of marriages one would expect to find in which the woman is taller than the man, if mating were random, vs. what you actually find. As you can see, the Hadza (and Gambians) have the rates of taller wives-shorter husbands one would expect if it were not an important factor, whereas in the UK, that pairing is significantly smaller than expected.

A 2012 paper on the Baka Pygmy (Short stature in African pygmies is not explained by sexual selection), however, includes as a comparison the neighbouring non-Pygmy Nzimé and find that in both populations, the rate of female-taller pairs is less than one would expect by random pairings – but not nearly so much less as in western samples:

Observed (white bar) vs. Expected (striped bar) female-taller pairings among several populations.

As for preferences, the authors write:

When asked about the importance of stature in the Baka society, men and women stand together on a very egalitarian discourse: “tall or short, this makes no difference.” When asked their personal preferences, 21 out of 29 of our male informants openly declared that they would not marry a woman taller than themselves. Women were less definitive on the question: they never said that tall stature is a standard of desirability in men, and only 10 out of 38 female informants said that “a woman should not be taller than her husband.” Interestingly, all the informants mentioned that Baka men propose a love relationship to women, never the reverse, which may be an explanation for different opinions expressed by men and women. If men mate choice is highly constrained by gendered representations, as we recorded, then a man would only very rarely propose to a taller woman, and women will thus very rarely be in the position to consider the opportunity of marrying a man shorter than themselves. It is therefore unclear whether, when faced with a choice between several men, a woman would preferentially mate with the tallest.

Another paper (Variable Preferences for Sexual Dimorphism in Stature (SDS) Might Not Be Universal: Data From a Semi-Nomad Population (Himba) in Namibia, 2011) looked at stated preferences without looking looking at actual pairings. The results were shifted away from western preferences. While 50% of the Himba preferred a male-taller coupling, 30% preferred equal-height partners, and 20% preferred female-taller couples.

In Western studies in general the vast majority of people state a preference for a male-taller partner, with men having a generally less pronounced preference; as well, there is almost no one who prefers a female-taller pairs (sources: 1,2).

Compare the Himba preferences in sexual dimorphism:

With that of three European nations (using the same ratios) (source):

A study of the Yali tribe in Papua New Guinea (Judgments of Sexual Attractiveness: A Study of the Yali Tribe in Papua, 2012) found that they similarly do not show the same preference for male-taller pairs. As you can see in the below graph, preferences for different types of pairings are no different than what would be predicted by chance. As the authors note, this could be either because they have no real preference, or because of diverse preferences. While still about 60% chose a male-taller pair, that is significantly lower than European populations which all chose male-taller pairs at over 90%.

Another 2012 study, of the Datoga people of Tanzania (Height preferences in humans may not be universal: Evidence from the Datoga people of Tanzania) found yet another pattern. As you can see in the below graph, the Datoga expressed a preference for the extreme pairs, and, once again, a significantly larger amount than in western samples (like in the Polish sample, left) preferred female-taller or equal-tallness pairs.

Now, I would like to see more comprehensive studies done in horticultural and hunter-gatherer societies, as well as more non-western societies, however the above evidence suggests that there is certainly less conscious emphasis on height as an attractive male quality, backed up by evidence suggesting female-taller pairings are nearly (or least closer than one finds in industrial societies) to what one would expect by purely random pairings.

Is it possible that height as an important feature of male attractiveness is cultural? If so, what would be the cause? I was reading Leopold Pospisil’s ethnography of the Kapauku Papuans – he writes:

The quantitative orientation of the people leads them into placing value upon higher numbers and larger volume. Accordingly, a tall individual is admired and a weak or small one is regarded as peu, bad… Most of the objects that are small are bad, or at least not so good as larger ones.

On the other hand, perhaps these different populations have undergone different selection pressures to mold these preferences.