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A paired samples t-test indicated that, on average, men preferred smaller partner height differences than they actually experienced mean difference: In other words, most men would have preferred to be less tall or less short relative to their partner Figure 2. Figure 3 shows that very tall men preferred to be slightly taller than their partner, whereas average height and short men preferred to be slightly shorter than their ideal partner.

Height was divided into 2. The horizontal line reflects no partner height difference.

Height correlated positively with both preferred and actual relative height among partners. Most notably, taller men expressed a preference for a smaller height differences than they actually experienced Figure 3.

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The largest proportion of men A substantial proportion of men Results for the association between relative height among partners and preferred sex role within a relationship were very similar to those concerning the preferred dominance role. In this study, we first examined preferences for relative height among non-heterosexual men.

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We showed that most men prefer a partner taller than themselves, but not too much taller. Specifically, taller men preferred relatively shorter partners, whereas shorter men preferred relatively taller partners compared to themselves. Our results are thus in agreement with Pawlowski [10] , who argued that individuals adjust their height preferences according to their own stature, possibly as a way to increase the pool of their potential partners. Male homosexual partner preferences cannot simply be reduced to a heterosexual female pattern of preferences, however, because almost a quarter of our homosexual sample preferred partners shorter than themselves a pattern more similar to that observed in heterosexual men.

Rather, it seems that men with more gender typical traits here men of taller stature show more male-like preferences for shorter partners, while shorter men show more female-like preferences for taller partners. Presenting average partner preferences may therefore obscure these distinctive patterns of partner preferences, perhaps reflecting diverse homosexual sub-groups. In addition to examining preferences for partner height, we also examined how well these preferences aligned with actual relative height differences among partners.

Interestingly, we found a discrepancy between what men preferred, and the actual heights of their partners Although tall men preferred to be taller than their partners and short men preferred to be shorter than their partners, in general, men in our sample expressed a preference for smaller partner height differences than they actually experienced; a finding that was most pronounced in tall men. In other words, taller men would prefer a partner that was taller than their actual partner, but not one who was taller than themselves.

This is in line with previous research showing a discrepancy between mate choice preferences, and actual mate choice [6] , [8] , [40] , [60]. Preferred and actual partner characteristics may differ for several reasons because mate selection process usually involves various trade-offs. Additionally, rivals may prevent the individual from obtaining the most desired partner.

Alternatively, a desired partner may not reciprocate the attraction shown toward them by a particular individual. Among sexual minorities, the discrepancy between mate preference and mate choice may be even more pronounced than among heterosexuals because the potential pool of partners is substantially more limited. Furthermore, when preferences are rather uniform in the population, they are unlikely to be met for most individuals.

For instance, the fact that half of the men in our sample preferred a taller partner while only one quarter preferred a shorter partner, must inevitably lead to a compromise, and the acceptance of partners of non-preferred heights by some men. Similarly, over one third of our sample showed a preference for equal roles during a sexual encounter i.

Moreover, almost half of our sample reported homogamy i. This suggests that a significant proportion of non-heterosexual men in our sample showed preferences for self-similarity in the studied characteristics.


This pattern has been repeatedly documented in studies of heterosexual mate preferences and mate-choice, showing that couples resemble each other in basic demographic, personality, and physical characteristics [61]. It thus seems that preferences for height are reflected in preferences for hierarchical position within the dyad.

This pattern was also observed with respect to preferred relationship dominance status: A hypothesized reason for why taller male height is preferred by heterosexual women, is that human height is positively associated with measures of social status, such as education and socioeconomic position [34] , [35].

Indeed, heterosexual women display stronger preferences for both height and socioeconomic status compared to heterosexual men. Homosexual men may similarly prefer taller men because of the association between height and social status, but very few studies have addressed the preference for socioeconomic status in homosexual individuals. A study based on a US sample, comparing the mating psychology of homosexual and heterosexual individuals, showed that homosexual men, as well as heterosexual men and homosexual women, show less interest in the social status of their partner than do heterosexual women [42].

A more recent study with a sample of Dutch men and women [62] showed that homosexual men, as well as heterosexual men and women put stronger emphasis on socioeconomic status as a partner characteristic than homosexual women. Preferences for socioeconomic status may thus be dependent on local cultures and this issue should be addressed in future studies. A potential limitation of our study is that participants were mostly recruited via email lists e.

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Thus, only men who frequently use the internet or email were able to participate in the study, which might potentially bias the results, if homosexual men sampled via social networks differ from homosexual men recruited via lonely-heart advertisements, or via gay bars or at gay parades. With this caveat in mind, this method did, however, enable us to recruit a relatively large sample of non-heterosexual men.

Further, our sample was composed of rather non-heterosexual men, thus of both bisexual and predominantly and exclusively homosexual men. Although results of analyzes ran without bisexuals and only with exclusive homosexuals yielded nearly identical results as with the whole sample, more research is needed to investigate specificities of partner preferences of homosexual and bisexual individuals.

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Also, the relationship between sexual or relationship dominance and height preferences has not been studied in heterosexual individuals, and future studies should address this point also in heterosexual men and women. As the study was conducted online we were not able to measure actual body height of the participants and instead relied on self-report. In general, self-report is prone to various biases and this might include reliable assessment of height.

For example, men who value being taller than their partner might also exaggerate their own height, whereas men who do not value being taller might report more realistic values. There is indeed some evidence that shorter men tend to overestimate their height [65]. Another limitation of our study was that we asked about partner preferences in general terms, rather than specifying whether it concerned short-term or long-term relationships.

Preferences may be dependent on such mating-contexts. For example, heterosexual women tend to prefer more masculine traits in short-term male partners, whereas they prefer more feminine features in a long-term relationship context [63] , [64]. Whether context dependent fluctuations in mate preferences would also appear in homosexual men is currently unknown, and would be an interesting avenue for future studies.

Despite these limitations, this is one of the first studies on partner preferences in a large sample of non-heterosexual men. We have shown that, although a large proportion of non-heterosexual men prefer to be in an equal relationship with respect to relative height and dominance although this did not hold for preferred sexual role , preferences for relative height among partners are strongly related to preferences for dyadic dominance in both sexual activities and in terms of the relationship dynamic more generally.

We have furthermore shown that mate preferences in homosexual men cannot be simply reduced to gender stereotypes in this case, gender atypical - resembling preferences of heterosexual females, which would here equate to a preference for taller partners , given that a substantial portion of homosexual men also preferred shorter partners. Moreover, these partner preferences are condition-dependent, influenced by many factors, including own height, preferred dominance hierarchy within a relationship and preferences for active versus passive roles during sexual intercourse.

We are thankful to Louise Barrett for proof reading of the manuscript and to anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on the manuscript. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Published online Jan Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer.

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. Received Sep 10; Accepted Dec This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are properly credited. Abstract Previous research has shown repeatedly that human stature influences mate preferences and mate choice in heterosexuals.

Introduction Human mate preferences and mate choice are known to be substantially influenced by physical characteristics of potential or actual mates [1] , [2]. Partner Preferences in Homosexual Men Although heterosexual preferences and choice for partner height have received considerable attention, little is known about these among homosexual individuals. Materials and Methods 2. Open in a separate window. The stimuli used for assessing preferred and actual relative height among partners.

Statistical Analyses We used Pearson correlations to examine the associations between self-reported height and preferred and actual relative height among partners the data were normally distributed. Table 1 Descriptive statistics for preferences and actual choice of the partner relative height. Dominance role Preferred sex role Preferred Actual Very dominant 8 1. The horizontal line reflects neither submissive nor dominant. The horizontal line reflects neither passive nor active role during intercourse. Discussion In this study, we first examined preferences for relative height among non-heterosexual men.

Acknowledgments We are thankful to Louise Barrett for proof reading of the manuscript and to anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on the manuscript. Barber N The evolutionary psychology of physical attractiveness: Ethology and Sociobiology Buss DM Sex differences in human mate preferences: Evolutionary hypotheses tested in 37 cultures.

Behavioral and Brain Sciences Puts DA Beauty and the beast: Mechanisms of sexual selection in humans.

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Evolution and Human Behavior American Journal of Physical Anthropology The case of human body shape. Mate preferences in action. Pawlowski B Variable preferences for sexual dimorphism in height as a strategy for increasing the pool of potential partners in humans. Pierce CA Body height and romantic attraction: A meta-analytic test of the male-taller norm. An International Journal A replication and extension. Personality and Individual Differences Personality and Individuality Differences Evidence from the Datoga people of Tanzania.

Data from a semi nomad population Himba in Namibia. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology Feingold A Gender differences in mate selection preferences: A test of the parental investment model. Nettle D Height and reproductive success in a cohort of British men. An Interdisciplinary Biosocial Perspective When ascertaining the height of their perfect match, many women use the formula: Internet dating perpetuates the notion. British singer Rod Stewart is 1. Similarly, Mary, 33, at 5ft 8in 1. But on the dating playing field, the tallest thrive.

Would you like a side order of hypocrite with that physical double standard, ladies? According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average height for a man is Women just want tall. Obviously, physical attraction is an essential component to falling in love, but to disregard someone you find attractive because of their height is limiting yourself. Then you can experiment by doing something different. You may be pleasantly surprised. If your values align, your attraction may, too. I fell in love with the person, not the height. Now I take great pleasure in people noticing us as a couple.

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