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In addition, if height signals physical dominance, it is likely that taller men make women feel smaller, protected, and perhaps more “feminine” as well.
In line with this idea, research has found that women with more “traditional” gender role expectations were less willing to date shorter men (Salska, et al., 2008).
This was a far smaller percentage than expected by chance, showing that there is some selective preference for taller men.
It is also noted that height is a “masculine” characteristic.
Even beyond biology, this study showed that women had a stronger preference for taller men when they were looking for a short-term relationship.
In other words, height and physical attraction may be most important when looking for a fling or a casual sexual relationship.
For dating, women look for men with agreeable personalities – men who show kindness, empathy, and intimacy, and factors like these can play a part in what women find most attractive in a man.
According to evolutionary theory, women looking for long-term relationships would want men who would stick by their side and help them provide for and take care of their infants.
In evolutionary terms, a larger man may have been able to provide more protection to their offspring, have greater genetic qualities to pass on to their future children, and thus may be awarded with greater social status.Instead of choosing the tallest of the bunch, many women use a step criteria, requiring that the men they are with are at least taller than they are (Hensley, 1994). Women’s preferences for sexual dimorphism in height depend on menstrual cycle phase and expected duration of relationship. Women do not have a exact height preference, but rather seem to be open to a variety of heights, so long as the man is taller than her. Women may learn to value men who are rewarded in society.
For example, taller men may be seen as more powerful and attractive, so women who are with taller men benefit by attaining a higher social status.
On the other hand, this also suggests that women at the shorter end of the spectrum and men at the taller end can afford to be more selective in who they wish to date, since they have a wider available dating pool from which to choose.