Women who are in the fertile phase of their menstrual cycle, or who are looking for a short-term relationship, tend to prefer taller men. That’s according to Polish researchers Boguslaw Pawlowski and Grazyna Jasienska who asked 110 women to look at drawings of six male-female couples and say which they thought was the ‘best match’. The illustrated couples varied in the height difference between the man and woman. The man was either 19 per cent taller, 14 per cent taller, 9 per cent taller (the average male-
female height difference in Poland), the couple were the same height or the man was 4 per cent shorter.
More women in the fertile (13) phase of their menstrual cycle than women in the infertile (11) phase of their menstrual cycle chose a couple where the man was 19 or 14 per cent taller. In contrast, many more women in the infertile phase (25) than women in the fertile (8) phase of their cycle chose a couple who were the same height, or where the man was shorter.
Next the researchers asked the women to choose their ideal male-female height difference for a short-term vs. a long-term relationship. Over twice as many women (42) chose a taller man for a short relationship than for a long relationship, rather than the other way around (20). The remaining women chose the same ‘ideal match’ for a long or a short relationship.
“Our results confirm that when women are potentially fertile or seeking a partner for a short-term relationship, they more often choose larger men”, the authors said. “A man’s height may indicate his high quality genotype”, they explained, so “…women follow that strategy which increases the chances for acquiring better genes for their offspring”.
Pawlowski, B. & Jasienska, G. (2005). Women’s preferences for sexual dimorphism in height depend on menstrual cycle phase and expected duration of relationship. Biological Psychology, 70, 38-43.
Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.