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Monday, 19 August, 2002, 12:40 GMT 13:40 UK
Are tall men more desirable?
Tall men seem sexier to women and more likely to father their children, say British scientists.

In turn, men find smaller women more attractive according to the National Child Development Study of 10,000 42 year-olds in Britain.

The taller men are, the more likely they are to have found a mate and reproduced and the same goes for women who are below average height, 1.62cm (5'3").

Attraction based on height difference means the two sexes won't evolve to be the same stature, concludes Dr Nettle of the Open University.

But the preferences may be part of British culture rather than something that has evolved naturally, say critics.

Why do you think bigger men and petite women are found desirable? Are you taller or shorter than your partner? What difference does it make to you?

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Everyone knows they are all accountants

Bilbo Baggins, Wales
On behalf of all short, ugly men I would like to complain about the blatant expressions of heightism in this Talking Point. Tall men are in fact dull, because as everyone knows they are all accountants. By contrast, short fat men, unfettered by the attentions of females are able to live much more exciting and adventurous lives.
Bilbo Baggins, Wales

There may be something to this study. I'm 5ft 5in, and haven't had a date since 1984.
Mike, USA

Fellas: Most of the greatest men in history, were short and/or bald! Which would you rather be, Julius Caesar, or a nobody with 2.4 kids and a wife nagging you for yet another space cruiser? Those who don't go down the road of marriage, kiddies, house in the suburbs etc, have the opportunity to do something worthwhile with their lives instead.
B Thompson, UK

Lu, UK

Most Formula 1 drivers are built like pixies - but they get the pick of all the women. Why? Money.
Richard, Leeds, UK

Smaller women are obviously a better bet. One, they eat less, so are cheaper to take to restaurants. Two, they use less soap, so are cheaper to invite home, and three, they can't borrow your socks.
Gordon McStraun, UK

Because of my height and build most people assume I'm stupid

Alcuin, UK
I'm 6'4" tall and no beanpole either but this is not just about sexual attractiveness or otherwise. I also have an IQ of 150 but, because of my height and build most people assume I'm stupid.
Alcuin, UK

At 6'8" I often get tall women telling me how unfair it is that I'm married to someone who is 5'2". Where were they when I was single? (Though I do generally find small women more attractive).
Neil, UK

My husband (who is short) is convinced that short men are generally not taken as seriously as tall men.
Lisa, UK

I guess we short women reached physical perfection much sooner than taller women

Cal, UK
I'm 5' 1" and hate being described as cute or any other synonyms associated with being short - it's demeaning. I'd like to find a tallish man to have children with one day so my kids don't end up as short as me. Staring up people's nostrils and getting a cricked neck from chatting in the pub is the pits. I have even had tall women in pubs rest their elbow on my head before they realise what they've done. Still, I guess we reached physical perfection much sooner than the other taller women.
Cal, UK

If this study is true, I've wasted a lot of money on high heel shoes!
Karen (5 foot), UK

How shall I say this? There are some things you do standing up that shorter men are better at.
Christine, England

It grieves me as a tall woman to see all the tall men taken up with short partners

Sarah, Japan
I have a little saying that I use to describe couples who are not balanced height-wise - a waste of space. It grieves me as a tall woman (5'10") to see all the tall men taken up with short partners. It means that we tall girls have no one left to choose from as all the suitable partners are already taken. I do not think I could date someone who was a lot shorter than me, as I too have the inner need to feel protected by a taller man.
Sarah, Japan

Great, just as I was getting to grips with being overweight and ginger, now I have to deal with being short as well.
Stu, UK

I have always preferred men who are at least a few inches taller than me (I'm 5 ft 1 in), but tend to be turned off by men who are a lot taller (6 ft or more).
Catherine Raymond, USA

I think petite women are great. The tops of their heads are ideal for resting your pint on in crowded pubs.
James, UK

You blokes are a laugh a minute, especially James, who says petite women are great for resting your pint on their heads in a crowded pub!
Bill Lazaris, USA

I'm 6ft 9in and have never had any success with the ladies

Lurch, England
Yet again, I fail to fit into any pigeon hole these so called experts come up with. I'm 6ft 9in and have never had any success with the ladies. I suppose you're going to tell me I'm too tall now, it certainly feels that way in this cramped little country of ours.
Lurch, England

I too hate to see all the wonderfully tall men already claimed by short women. The taller the better as far as I'm concerned, but I'm not little enough to attract them! A 6 foot 9 man sounds appealing!
Lesley, UK

I'm 5ft10 and my husband is 6ft4. He says he likes tall women as they age better, whereas short women look good in their 20s and appear petite, however after children they always 'blow up' and very rarely maintain their figures!
Isobel, UK/Canada

What a fantastic study! My aunt told me that short women are more likely to be hardworking. I hope this study will help me decide beyond doubt. I am 6'1" and still growing so I can really use this kind of information.
Abdirizak Sharif Idris, Nashville, TN, USA

The thought of dancing with someone who could put his head on my shoulder is a complete turn-off

Linda, England
I know this is all a terrific generalisation - but it's still fascinating. I'm 5'6" and I have never been attracted to short men - the thought of dancing with someone who could put his head on my shoulder is a complete turn-off!
Linda, England

I agree that women in general find taller men more desirable and attractive. I am 5'3" and would never consider dating a man my height or shorter!
Lora Jones, Arizona, USA

I think it must depend on the country. Petite women are just considered "short" where I come from (Jamaica), and not particularly attractive because of it. But it is true that tall men are more attractive to women- one does feel protected.
Rita, USA

Men don't like tall women

Karen, London, UK
I recently went to a wedding. At my table there were three single women, two of them were 5'8" and the other 6'. I see a pattern emerging. Men don't like tall women.
Karen, London, UK

Tall men are scary if you're smaller than them. Men can't just be tall to find them attractive though.
Em, UK

I'm 6'4" and find tall women who carry it well irresistible. Maybe it's because I'm married to a much shorter woman.
Phil, Leeds, UK

There is no doubt that women are drawn to tall men. A very tall man walks into the room and you see the women all collectively start to drool, even if he's not particularly good looking. I've also found that tall men know this and are often very full of themselves. They also think they're tougher than short men - though most of them, by virtue of their height, have never been in any scrapes and so are quite soft. By the way I'm six foot - in the middle range.
D Williams, UK

Could D Williams, UK tell me where that room is please? (6'7").
Andy Massey, England

D Williams has it all wrong when he states that tall men think themselves tougher. It is the shorter men who think the taller men think they are tougher. I am 6 foot 7 and was regularly challenged by shorter men in clubs and pubs. I assume they thought they could impress any women around by taking me on.
Dave Weaver, UK

Small blokes tend to be more aggressive and think they have something to prove due to their size, a bit like a jack russell, give me a 6ft guy anytime.
Kate, England

My boyfriend is 4" shorter than me, and I'm only 5 ft 5". He quite enjoys it, women flock to him. I always seem to go for fairly short men.
Alex, Herts, UK

If he can makes me laugh, if we can talk and if there is that bit that makes you go "woof!" that will do it for me. Height... pah!
M, London

I may be only 5'6" - but I'm 6'2" with my hands up!

Underneath the clothing and the intellect we are still basically animals. Women see larger men as being more likely to look after them and protect them from unwanted attention from other males. In a civilised society there is no physical advantage to being either tall or short so natural selection doesn't really enter into it.
Neil Wallace, Northern England

I'd give Tom Cruise the benefit of the doubt

Essie, England
As a woman of 5'2", I can honestly say that I prefer the 6ft tall man, as opposed to the shorter physique, but I'd give Tom Cruise the benefit of the doubt.
Essie, England

This is nonsense. I wish the media would stop categorising everyone: Tall men are more attractive; men called Derek whose favourite colour is purple are bad drivers. Who does these surveys and why do they even bother?
Gary, Germany

Why are models so tall then? And why do women wear heels? If you've ever seen a really tall man date a really short woman they look daft.
Frances, York, UK

I am a 6'3" male and I definitely find smaller more petite women attractive. I would not want to date a six foot gangly women, it just wouldn't feel right.
Patrick, UK

If I were smaller, my rotten features would not be so prominent

Ian Batts, UK
I am 6'2" and as far as I'm aware, no girl has ever looked at me twice. If I were smaller, maybe I could blend in to a crowd better, my rotten features would not be so prominent and I may stand a chance of courting a lady.
Ian Batts, UK

Tall women are like giant insects - give me a five-footer any day!
Russ, UK

I don't know about height, but I've seen the effect money can have on some women. And before we men start feeling self-righteous, I've seen the effect certain women's body parts have on men. Are we talking about stature or shallowness?
Chris, US

I'm only 4'9" but have no problem attracting women. I just sit at the bar buying champagne with my diamond credit card while licking my eyebrows...
Jon, UK

I don't think this study should be taken too seriously. As a fairly short man it is obvious to me that tall men get more attention from women. All it means is short men need to put more effort in. Power to short men!!
Mark, England

Women find Ferrari owners even sexier than tall men.
Martin, England

I am six foot four. Anyone got Kylie's number?
Alan, UK

To Alan UK: Me first for Kylie's phone number! Six foot six inches.
John, Scotland

The constant ridicule was enough to put me off short men

I am 5' 7" and was in a relationship with a man of the same height for two years. The constant ridicule from my friends was enough to put me off dating short men completely.

Women who would never date a short guy again because they were ridiculed by their friends have it all wrong. It should put them off their "friends", not the short guys!
Jay, USA

Great... Just when I was starting to feel good about myself, there comes another bombshell to knock my already battered ego. I'm 5'6" and I've courted women who are taller or shorter than me, who have more girth than I do. I'm marginally good looking, health conscious, and hygienic. Mind you, I'm single at the moment, so what does that say?
John Wedge, North England

I'm 5'8" and the women flock around me. So I think it's nonsense.
Craig, England

Tall men are the business - yum! I find a lot of small men have "small man syndrome"- when they are bossy and overpowering to make up for their height. Also I personally feel "protected" with a tall man by my side.
Katy, Scotland

It's not just short blokes who develop a Napoleon complex! I was drawn to my current wife because of her incredible physical presence, and she responded to me because at 6 foot in heels, I was one of the few blokes that evening who didn't feel intimidated by her. What she didn't know at the time is I'd been married to a 4'11 woman for five years, and was heartily sick of little bossy women whose diminutive stature makes them think they need to prove themselves.
Emrys, Britain

Men should be falling over themselves to get to me

Donna, UK
If this is the case, at 4'11" men should be falling over themselves to get to me. Unfortunately the only falling over they do is over me when they fail to see me due to my size. And as for whether tall men are more attractive, they're all tall to me!
Donna, UK

What a ridiculous study. I knew a lad under five feet tall and he was swamped by taller girls, purely because of his personality and his extremely cheeky grin.
Richard H, UK

Men's egos are so fragile that they choose small women as partners so they can feel a sense of superiority. Small women are easier to intimidate physically. It's still about control, and big babes are harder to keep a rein on.
Jane, USA

It's a gross generalisation of the worst form to say tall men prefer petite women because they're easier to dominate. It may sometimes be the case but I'm 6'2" and have a preference for petite ladies but I also like my women to be feisty and give as good as they get...
Ian, England

It reaffirms their masculinity

Sarah, UK
I think many women tend to like tall men because it makes them feel petite and feminine. In the same way men like women who are shorter than them as it reaffirms their masculinity.
Sarah, UK

I think women see tall men as more attractive as it's a deep seated thought that tall is strong and robust and they would want their children to be strong. Men find smaller women attractive as that is seen as more feminine and that they would be physically more dominant.
Pamela, England

This is more old wives' tale nonsense. I'm 6ft 2in and women find me physically repulsive.
Mick, UK

See also:

14 Aug 02 | Health
13 Aug 02 | Health
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