I have heard many women say that they like taller men. As a possible explanation I heard that they feel more secure with a taller men than a shorter one.

Do women tend to prefer men who are tall, men who are taller than themselves, or is there no relation?

  • 2
    presumably, a taller man than the woman is?
    – Thursagen
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 22:10
  • @Ham, I edited to clarify.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 6:21
  • 2
    In choosing a husband, size matters
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 23:13
  • 1
    That would explain why Snookie is so promiscuous. All men are taller than her.
    – JohnFx
    Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 2:58
  • I wanted to ask does women prefer richer males but I got the feeling that it'll be off topic somehow.
    – user4951
    Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 2:42

3 Answers 3


Based on the Wikipedia page on Physical Attractiveness, which is well referenced, this is true. Note however that it also says there that

While women usually desire men to be at least the same height as themselves or taller, several other factors also determine male attractiveness, and the male-taller norm is not universal. In certain non-Western cultures, the relative heights of partners have been shown to be irrelevant in their choice of mate, which suggests that Western height preferences may be sociocultural, rather than genetic, in nature. Professor Adam Eyre-Walker, from the University of Sussex, stated that there is, as yet, no evidence that these preferences are evolutionary preferences, as opposed to merely cultural preferences.

  • 3
    Can you dig in a little deeper: what do the references say?
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 6:57
  • 4
    Upvote because I'm rather tall. Also because it answers the question, I guess.
    – Publius
    Commented Mar 30, 2013 at 8:22

Quoting David Buss (2005): The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology

Chapter 10: Lawrence S. Sugiyama - Physical Attractiveness in Adaptationist Perspective.

Men tend to have partners who are shorter than themselves and vice versa (Gillis & Avis, 1980). In modern populations, there is generally a positive as- sociation between male height and health (Kuh & Ben Shlomo, 1997; Kuh & Wadsworth, 1993; Macintyre & West, 1991; Silventoinen, Lahelma, & Rahkonen, 1999) and reproductive success (RS; Mueller & Mazur, 2001; Nettle, 2002; Pawlowski, Dunbar, & Lipowicz, 2000). As noted earlier, relative height provides some information about phenotypic quality. Height is associated with the rated attractiveness of men (e.g.,Feingold, 1982; Gillis & Avos, 1980; Hensley, 1994), with American women rating short men undesirable for either long- or short-term mates. Tall, strong, athletic men are strongly desired as marriage partners (Buss & Schmitt, 1993), and taller- than-average men are preferred to men of short or average stature as dates and mating partners (Ellis, 1992). In analyses of personal ads, 80% of women who stated height preferences wanted men 6 feet tall or taller (Cameron, Oskamp, & Sparks, 1977). Ads placed by taller men receive more responses (Lynn & Shurgot, 1984; Pawlowski & Koziel, 2002). Women even seem to take height into considera- tion in sperm donors (Scheib, Kristiansen, & Wara, 1997). Further, there appears to be a positive association between height and socioeconomic success (Bielicki & Szklarska, 1999; Frieze, Olson, & Good, 1990; Frieze, Olson, & Russell, 1991; Hensley & Cooper, 1987; Jackson, 1992). In an experimental study, 72% of recruiters for sales positions preferred the taller of two job applicants, but only one recruiter preferred the shorter candidate (the remainder had no preference; Kurtz, 1969). Among a large sample of British men, taller-than-average men had higher numbers of live-in partners and lower chance of either being childless or having had no significant mating rela- tionship (Nettle, 2002). However, Nettle found no significant association between total number of offspring and height, although the men had not yet completed fertility: They were not yet of the age where they were likely to have had all children from a second marriage, and they had ready access to contraceptives. Intensity of preference for taller males is also expected to vary with resource stress: Be- cause taller males are those who could better afford the costs of growing larger, relative height provides a costly signal of phenotypic quality, amplified under resource and pathogen stress.


A recent study from University of Groningen suggests that there is a preference for taller male partner among women. Equally, men prefer a shorter female partner. The effect becomes more pronounced upon studying the exact terms how much height difference correlates with the perceived satisfaction with partner's height: with male subjects the perceived satisfaction peaks when the female is 8 cm shorter than the male, while female subjects tend to be most satisfied with a partner that is 21 cm taller than the female.

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