Homo Consumericus

The nature and nurture of consumption

How Likely Is a Woman to be Taller Than Her Man?

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes is indeed a rare couple.

Short_and_MaleI recently participated in a documentary titled S&M: Short and Male wherein I was asked to provide some evolutionary insights as to why women hold a preference for taller men. In viewing the short trailer (no pun intended), pay attention to the hauntingly handsome man at around the 49 seconds mark.

Evolutionists have conducted numerous studies that have shown that all other things equal, height is a desirable trait sought by women in prospective male suitors. Furthermore, tall men are more likely to be CEOs of large corporations, as well as earn more money as compared to their shorter counterparts (i.e., income and height are positively correlated). Interestingly, the importance of height varies depending on where a woman is in her menstrual cycle. When maximally fertile and when seeking short-term dalliances, the preference for tall men is more pronounced, undoubtedly a manifestation of the shopping for good genes phenomenon.

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Notwithstanding the desirability of tall men, it appears that the most important issue is not that the man be taller than a certain height (e.g., "He needs to be taller than six feet."); rather the main concern for women is that their men should be taller than them. In a study published in 1980 (although there is no reason to think that the findings would not replicate today), John S. Gillis and Walter E. Avis found that in only one of 720 actual couples was the woman taller than her man. They calculated that the chance occurrence of this event was 2% and yet the actual incidence was extraordinarily lesser frequent (0.14%).

Hence, contrary to Randy Newman's famous song line "Short people got no reason to live", short men need not be doomed to a life of celibacy...their task is to find women who are shorter than them!

Source for Image:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S&M_Short_and_Male

Gad Saad is Professor of Marketing at Concordia University and author of The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption and The Consuming Instinct.

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