I did a survey exploring height preference in men and women for the opposite sex. The stereotype is that women prefer tall men or at least taller men, and that men prefer shorter women (relative to their height). The results confirm that pattern, with men showing slightly more flexibility than women in their preferred height range. Interestingly, I found some truncation in the height range preference as women get older. The mean remained the same in older women but the high and low end height range were curtailed. With men there was a less clear pattern which showed an increase in the high end of the preferred height range with age.
age range 18-65
# of men 1249
# of women 1458
average height of women in sample 5ft 4.9in
average height of men in the sample 5ft 10.3in
Question that was asked:
What height range do you find most attractive in the opposite sex?
Users were able to select a low end and high end, with a range of 4ft to 7ft 6in, iterated in inches (metric equivalents were included).
Men and Women
- the average mean height preference difference of all men was 1.64in shorter, the overall ideal range was 4.93in shorter to 1.65in taller
- the average mean height preference difference of all women was 7.94in taller, the overall ideal range was 5.3in taller to 10.4in taller
- avg height 5ft 1.6in
- prefer a range of 5ft 7in to 6ft 1in
- mean preference of the group 5ft 10in
Average height women
- avg height 5ft 5in
- prefer a range of 5ft 9in to 6ft 2in
- mean preference of the group 5ft 11.5in
- avg height 5ft 8.5in
- prefer a height range of 5ft 10in to 6ft 4in
- mean preference of the group 6ft 2in
- 5ft 10in to 6ft 1in was in the ideal range of all women, on average
- all three groups of women have a range in their ideal of five to six inches, on average
- the shorter the woman, the taller the start of her ideal range is, in relative comparison to average and tall women
- avg height 5ft 6.6in
- prefer a range of 5ft 2in to 5ft 8in
- mean preference of the group 5ft 5in
Average height men
- avg height 5ft 10in
- prefer a range of 5ft 3in to 5ft 9.5in
- mean preference of the group 5ft 6.25in
- avg height 6ft 1.66in
- prefer a range of 5ft 4in to 5ft 11in
- mean preference of the group 5ft 7.5in
- 5ft 4in to 5ft 8in is in the ideal range of all men, on average.
- all three groups of men have a range in their ideal of five to six inches, on average (same as women).
- only the short male sample, on average, had taller women in there ideal range, the tallest end of the ideal range for average and tall men is below each group's average height.
If you adjust for the height difference of men and women (men are @5in taller), men have an almost identical opposite direction height preference. Adjusting for the height difference of men and women, women would still prefer men .3 to 5.4 inches taller than them (the unadjusted preference range is 5.3 to 10.4 inches taller). Men prefer women 4.93in shorter to 1.65in taller than them. Thus, men have approximately a one inch larger acceptable range, on average. That one inch is on the taller end of the preferred range. So men, are more likely to self report as being attracted to slightly taller girls, whereas women do not share that accommodation in the opposite direction. The female range preference ends at slightly above their gender adjusted height. From an evolutionary standpoint this all makes sense. Preference selection should be mirrored in the sexes and any flexibility is more likely to show up in males since women exert greater selection power than men, on average.
These are anonymous self reported results but they match up very well with previous research on this topic. In a study by Gillis and Avis (1980) only 2 couples out of 720 consisted of a pair in which the man was shorter than the woman. In a study by Hensley (1994) women most preferred a man who was 72 inches (6ft) tall. In a study by Cameron (1978), 100 percent of the women advertised the desire to date a man who was 4 inches taller than themselves.
*Short, Average, Tall groups were determined by separating the samples into gender specific height groups of as close to 1/3 of the entire gender sample number as possible.
**3.28-3.30 version of test