Why Do Women Like Tall Men?

We have all heard the universal adage of a lady seeking a man who is 'tall, dark and handsome,' and there seems there's more truth to the saying than meets the eye. Women tend to prefer taller men as their partners, but why?

Women like tall men for various reasons, such as adaptive evolutionary instincts, psychosocial preferences, and adaptive fear responses to external danger.


Cultural norms may also play a part where taller men are perceived to be more efficient leaders and given a higher social prominence than their shorter counterparts.

Our modern brains still bear the vestiges of our evolutionary past, which dictates in some measure what women find attractive in a male mate. Studies do support the notion of women's preference for taller men for several reasons discussed below.

Is There Scientific Evidence that Women Prefer Tall Men?

In an article in Personality and Individual Differences, called "Women want taller men more than men want shorter women," a team of experts conducted a scientific survey of women's preference for taller partners. The study showed that women are consistent in their height preferences, choosing partners much taller than themselves.

The survey found that women preferred men 21cm (8.26 inch) taller than themselves on average, while men were satisfied with only an 8cm (3.14 inch) difference between themselves and their female partners. This substantial difference in height selection is indicative of several factors that I will discuss below.

The Reasons Why Women Like Taller men

1. Biological Evolution

Our biological evolution determines much of what we instinctively find attractive in a mate. Sexual dimorphism is common in nature.

There is a substantial size difference between the sexes, such as spiders like the Golden Orb or Nephila senegalensis, where the female is substantially bigger than her mate. The female nephila may have a 30mmm abdomen in contrast to her diminutive suitor, who only reaches 5mm.

Did You Know?

In mammals, such as primates, the male tends to be larger and more muscular. For Example, the gorilla, chimpanzee, and orangutan males are not only larger and stronger but have more prominent canine teeth.

These physical characteristics ensured that the female primate had more chance of passing on her genetic material through the greater protection afforded by her larger mate.

Larger, more dominant males were also likely better food providers, and women and their young may have sough protection by attaching themselves to larger dominant partners. The reason why women prefer taller men may be seen as adaptive in evolutionary terms.

2. Women's Preference for Dominant Male Mates

In an article on Evolution and Human Behavior, a scientific survey found that women fearful of crime and tended to seek larger, more dominant, and aggressive mates. The inherent dangers of living with a potentially dangerous mate were seen as a 'trade-off' for the benefits of protection in a perceived environment of danger.

However, larger, more dominant males may prove to be more dangerous in terms of child-rearing and physical safety and are more likely to injure their partners through even low-level violence such as slapping or pushing.

3. Psychosocial Factors

Some experts suggest that women prefer taller men due to psychosocial factors. The act of looking up at somebody may translate to the unconscious brain to 'looking up' to their mate figuratively. A smaller, more diminutive stature in relation to their mates may make women feel protected by a more powerful person.

Studies show that taller men are favored somewhat in society and are seen as leaders. In fact, they tend to be elected to office more often than their shorter counterparts. This cultural bias towards the taller male may be yet another reason why women gravitate towards taller men.

Do Women Always Favor Taller Men?

Luckily for the shorter suitors out there, height is only one of the myriad of factors that play into a woman's choice of partner. If one looks around, there are not many couples showing the 21cm differences women are supposedly hardwired to find the perfect height difference.

In Fact

Our World in Data cites the mean height difference between men and women to be only 4 ½ inches or 12 cm throughout the globe.

Tall men tend to favor taller women, on the other hand, not as tall as they are., but taller than average. Studies suggest that taller men prefer women only 3 inches shorter on average in what biologists define as an assortative mating tendency.

Assortative mating is a form of sexual selection in which individuals with similar phenotypes mate more frequently with each other. Body size is one of these phenotype preferences in mates that may also ameliorate the incidence of taller men selecting women substantially shorter than themselves.

Are Women Defined By Their Instincts to Choose Taller Men?

Females are attracted to the masculinity and dominance evoked by taller men and the stereotypically masculine features indicating high testosterone. However, one should strive to separate this instinctual evolutionary impetus from the cultural norms that reinforce them.

In a culture where we may criticize the gender norms that reinforce the desirability of dominant males, we may go a long way in changing them. Although we might be slaves to our biological imperatives to a certain degree, we are also free-thinking individuals with insight into our deeper evolutionary instincts.

Simply being tall is not a deciding factor in women's mate preferences any more than large breasts are a deciding factor in a man's choice of a woman.

Although these features may inspire superficial attraction, there are a variety of characteristics such as charisma, intelligence, kindness, and confidence that determine a suitable choice of partner.


Although women's attraction to men who are taller than them may have some deeper biological and evolutionary imperative, they are by no means a deciding factor in choosing a suitable mate. Women can and do choose mates in various heights and form successful partnerships despite pairing with men the same height or shorter than themselves. 

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