A new study confirms there is an unspoken
rule among women: Don't settle for a short man.
The researchers first analysed data from
online dating ads posted by about 450 men and 470 women across the United
States. The men had an average age of 36 and an average height of 5 feet, 8
inches, while the women had an average age of 35 and an average height of 5
feet, 4 inches.
Although 13.5% of men wanted to date only
shorter women, 49% of women wanted to date only taller men.
Feeling protected and feminine
The researchers then conducted an online
survey of 54 men (with an average height of 5 feet, 9 inches) and 131 women
(average height 5 feet, 4 inches) at a US university. They found that 37% of
the men wanted to date only women shorter than them, while 55% of the women
wanted to date only men taller than them.
Feeling protected and feminine were the
main reasons women gave for preferring taller men, according to the study,
which was published online recently in the Journal of Family Issues.
"As the girl, I like to feel delicate
and secure at the same time," said one woman in the study. "Something
just feels weird in thinking about looking down into my man's eyes. There is
also something to be said about being able to wear shoes with high heels and
still be shorter. I also want to be able to hug him with my arms reaching up
and around his neck."
Reinforcing gender stereotypes
"Evolutionary psychology theory argues
that similarity is overwhelmingly the rule in human mating," study
co-author Michael Emerson, a professor of sociology and co-director of the
Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, said in a university
news release. "However, our study suggests that for physical features such
as height, similarity is not the dominant rule, especially with females."
The height preferences revealed in the
study are due to gender stereotypes and traditional societal expectations, said
study author George Yancey, a professor of sociology at the University of North
"The masculine ability to offer
physical protection is clearly connected to the gender stereotype of men as
protectors," Yancey said in the news release. "And in a society that
encourages men to be dominant and women to be submissive, having the image of
tall men hovering over short women reinforces this value."
Picture: Tall man from Shutterstock
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