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The BBC's Francesca Kasteliz
"None of the findings come as a surprise to professional matchmakers"
 real 28k

Professor Robin Dunbar
Tall men are more successful
 real 28k

Thursday, 13 January, 2000, 08:30 GMT
Tall guys get the girls

street Stand out in a crowd: Finding a mate can be tricky

What vertically-challenged men have always feared seems to be borne out by scientific research.

Women want a tall man because those extra centimetres suggest he either has good genes or comes from a wealthy background, new research claims.

If a chap is five feet, 11 and a half, you can be sure he will put down six feet on his form
Mary Balfour, Manchester dating agency
Females might say they are attracted to a fellow with a good sense of humour and boyish charms, but dig deeper into their animal instincts and it seems their subconscious pushes them towards the most suitable mate, who will protect them and their children.

This analysis is based on the medical records of nearly 4,500 Polish men aged between 25 and 60.

Once the researchers had removed individuals who might skew the results, they found that childless men were on average three centimetres (1.25 inches) shorter than men who had fathered at least one child.

Little choice

The sole exceptions were men who would now be in their 60s and 70s. This was because they emerged into the marriage market just after World War II, when single men were scarce and women had little choice.

Dunbar Professor Dunbar: Women are looking for good genes
Researchers believe the figures clearly show that taller men are reproductively more successful than shorter men, indicating that women are actively selecting for tallness when they go looking for male partners.

"Height is a cue for genetic quality," says Professor Robin Dunbar from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Liverpool, UK. "The quality of your genes determines how tall you can grow even in a poor environment.

"Height is also a cue to the kind of resources a husband can bring into a relationship and this has a huge impact on the survival chances of their offspring."

Professor Dunbar has previously studied the lonely hearts columns in newspapers and magazines. From this work, it appears that men are, subconsciously at least, aware of women's preference for tallness. The male ads tended only to mention height when the individual was above the average.

Evolutionary processes

"I suppose one of the important consequences of these results is really to show up that human behaviour is driven, at one level at least, by evolutionary processes. It doesn't mean that everything we do is genetically determined but evolution is guiding our behaviour," Professor Dunbar told the BBC.

Professor Dunbar says short men should not lose heart - the process of choosing a mate is very complex and height will only be one factor.

The findings come as no surprise to professional matchmakers. Mary Balfour, from the Manchester dating agency Drawing Down The Moon, says men are apt to lie about their height.

"For example, if a chap is five feet, 11 and a half (1.81 metres), you can be sure he will put down six feet on his form. And if they're much shorter than that, they like to add an inch or two."

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See also:
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Women's choice of men goes in cycles
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