Napoleon aside, tall men are more likely to win the popular contest in presidential votes and to be re-elected once in office Stulp, Their greater leadership potential may have something to do with the fact that tall men have higher self-esteem whether or not deserved , are happier, and less likely to feel jealous toward other men. When it comes to romantic partners, men and women tend to sort themselves out so that they form pairs of similar height.
However, among married couples, women are more likely to be shorter than their husbands, if only by a few inches. In an intriguing 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. In the beast-eats-man world of primitive civilizations, this argument might have a rationale.
You can probably come up with your own counter-arguments to the evolutionary interpretation on your own. Three come to mind for me. First, taller men may only seem stronger because we conflate height with weight and strength. Men are taller because of hormonal influences, to be sure. This then becomes translated into social attitudes. 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. However, some parents seek to take matters into their own hands by giving their too-short or too-tall children hormonal treatments during the years of active growth. Such treatments can involve considerable risk, expense, and subsequent resentment from their height-manipulated offspring.
Stulp and his colleagues sought to understand not only who prefers whom in terms of height, but also how people feel about their own height. The participants in this study were first-year heterosexual psychology students who received course credit for completing the survey. 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 it turns out, people do tend to partner with people of similar height due to a phenomenon known as assortative mating. Men were most satisfied with women slightly shorter than them about 3 in.
How do all these partner differences translate to personal satisfaction? The findings for women were surprising in light of the partner preference data. Tall women were more satisfied with their height than short women were. 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. 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. There are two pessimistic interpretations of these findings, then. One is that no one is ever truly happy with the height of his or her partner. We can offset this by keeping in mind the age group of the participants might offer some hope. The other finding, that short men and women are both dissatisfied with their height, may also apply more to the young than the psychologically more mature.
Again, this is a problem that time, and greater experience in the world, can help them conquer. The authors conclude their fascinating study by pointing out that much of this height perception and preference is relative. Arguing against the evolutionary interpretation, they point out that height preferences are not universal throughout the world, as has been shown in studies of non-Western sample.
Finally, given the biases that people in Western societies have toward height, they recognize that their participants may not always be completely truthful.
This study shows the hidden biases we may have toward people based on nothing other than their physical appearance. No matter what your actual height, it is the personal qualities you bring to a relationship that, eventually, will bring you into contact with your ideal partner. Copyright Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph. Sense and nonsense about the importance of height of US presidents. The Leadership Quarterly, 24 1 , Women want taller men more than men want shorter women.
Personality and Individual Differences.