Are you too tall/short for the opposite gender?

Introduction

I've seen a lot of questions on here by both guys and girls wondering if they're too tall or too short for the opposite gender, so I thought I'd do a little statistical analysis to see if there was a measurable idealized height for both genders. A few weeks ago I posted this question to which a truck load of you responded (thank you!) and I spent the last couple weeks distilling and analyzing the data to see if I could answer this question.

Basically I tested two things: 1) Does age affect idealized height? And 2) Does height affect idealized height? The second question is the more intriguing one. You can view idealized height on a sliding scale with two end-members: a constant height and a constant height difference (i.e. idealized height scales with the other person's height). In other words using a linear relationship, y=mx+b, m varies between 0 (constant height, b) and 1 (constant difference, b). In theory m could be greater than 1, but it's unlikely in this scenario.

Methods

Before I dive into the results, I should probably bore you all with how I analyzed it. I'll keep this really brief. To test the first question, I grouped the data into four age groups and ran an analysis of variance test on each gender. I did this for each gender's height, idealized height, and height difference. To test the second question, I averaged the data by increments of 1" to get rid of some of the noise and ran a linear regression between idealized height and height for both genders. Trendlines, standard errors of the estimate, coefficients of determination, and significance levels are all reported.

Results

Does age affect idealized height?

Are you too tall/short for the opposite gender?

Table 1 - Averages plus/minus 1 standard deviation for height, idealized height, and height difference, for each gender segregated by age.

  • The average reported female height is 5'5" with no differences across any of the age groups
  • The average idealized male height is 5'11" with no differences across the age groups
  • The average height difference is 7" with no differences across the age groups
  • The average reported male height is 5'10" with the age group "0-17" being significantly shorter than the other groups
  • The average idealized female height is 5'5" with no differences across the age groups
  • The average height difference is 5" with no differences across the age groups

There doesn't appear to be age dependency on height preferences by either gender. Guys of any age prefer girls who are around 5'5" (5'2"-5'8") while girls of any age prefer guys around 5'11" (5'8"-6'2"). What's interesting is that the average girl prefers a guy of average height and vice versa.

Does height affect idealized height?

Figure 1 - Raw data of relationships between male and female idealized heights versus reported height (A & B). Filtered versions of A & B (C & D). Error bars in A and B are ranges reported by users. Error bars in C & D are 1 standard deviation. Lines of equal height are labelled in red and the idealized averages +/- 1 SD from Table 1 are shaded in grey.

Firstly, let's state the obvious: Girls prefer guys who are taller than them and guys prefer girls who are shorter than them. That is abundantly clear from the figures where only a few exceptions seem to exist.

The following will only focus on the filtered graphs:

  • The range of 5’8” to 6’2” describes female height preferences fairly well.
  • For girls, there is a moderate, though, statistically significant positive trend between female height and idealized male height, meaning that idealized male height roughly scales with the girl’s height. This is particularly true for girls 5’4” and over, who generally prefer guys at least 5’11”, increasing with the girl’s height. Girls 5’3” and below generally prefer a guy under 5’11".
  • The slope value of the regression is 0.366, which means that the idealized height increases by 0.37” for every inch of female height and also means that the height disparity decreases by 0.63” as the woman gets taller, varying from ~10” for girls of 5’, to 5” of girls of 5’9”, and 1” for girls of 6’.
  • The range of 5’2” to 5’8” describes male height preferences fairly well.
  • For guys, there is a weak and statistically insignificant positive trend between male height and idealized female height, meaning that idealized female height does not scale with the guy’s height and can be viewed as an approximate constant of about 5’5” +/- 3”. This applies primarily to guys above 5’4”, while those below tend to like girls below 5’.
  • For every inch male height increases, the height gap between male and female height increases by between 0.79" and 1" depending on whether you choose to use the regression coefficient or give it a value of 0, since the coefficient is insignificant.

Discussion & Conclusions - How much does height actually matter?

The most relevant results can be summarized as follows:

  • Male height preferences vary between 5'2" and 5'8" and are largely invariant with both age and height.
  • Female height preferences vary between 5'8" and 6'2" and are invariant with age but not height where taller girls prefer average to above-average guys and shorter girls prefer average to slightly below-average guys.
  • On average, each gender prefers the other gender's average height.

Whether these results are surprising depends on your pre-conceived notions of each gender's height preferences. It should be noted that there exists considerable scatter within the data, so any height preferences are just generalizations and not immutable fact applicable to every person of a given height. So don't take the results too personally if you fall out of the idealized range.

A study is never fully complete until you compare your results to other people's findings. So comparing these results to the published studies of Fink et al. (2007), Salska et al. (2008), and Swami et al. (2008) there is strong congruence in terms of average height, average idealized height, and how idealized height varies with reported height. For instance, both Salska et al. (2008) and Swami et al. (2008) show that the idealized male height lies between 5'10" and 6', while the idealized female height lies between 5'4" and 5'6". All three studies report that females prefer the guy to be about 8-10% taller on average while guys prefer to be 5-9% taller. This corresponds to averages of 11% and 8% for females and males respectively from the data here. Lastly, both Fink et al. (2007) and Salska et al. (2008) were able to capture the relationship between reported height and height difference whereby the tallest women and shortest men prefer partners of similar height, and the shortest women and tallest men prefer height differences of at least 7" to 10". All in all, the findings from this completely unsophisticated study support previously published results.

If you have access to them, I definitely encourage you to take a peek at those articles. They go into more depth on things that I don't have the time nor knowledge to talk about. The Fink et al. and Salska et al. studies are free if you type the titles into Google Scholar and click on the researchgate pdf link.

So let's wrap this up with a nice, tidy bow. To answer the question of whether height actually matters, I'd say not as much as we believe. It seems like the vast majority of women are content with heights between 5'8" to 6'2" while guys are content with heights between 5'2" and 5'8". And considering some of those crazy ranges in Figures 1A and 1B, we could probably extend these height brackets further. I'll emphasize again that there exists considerable scatter within the data, so if the results have discouraged you, fret not. Many users reported that height isn't important to them and gave some pretty broad ranges, so don’t go tying your sense of self-worth to the trends. Honestly, I think we let our insecurities get the better of us and make mountains out of moles. But height preference is a messy thing to nail down because there's so much variability, and there's so much variability because we honestly don't care too much. As long as she's shorter than him and he's taller than her, everything else is just details.

If there's anything you noticed from the graphs that I didn't cover that you found interesting, feel free to post a comment. This isn't really my day job so I didn't pick through the graphs with a fine-tooth comb and really consider all the implications of the results. There are more things to be said but I've spent 3 days writing/editing this and need to get on with my life!

Hope you enjoyed reading!!


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What Girls Said 24

  • Really, I personally don't think height matters that much.
    I am 5'8 and I love my height, I don't feel too tall like many girls claim. Also I don't really care about the height of the opposite gender! :)

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    • Your bit like my girl she always says to me that i might not be 6 ft whatever and said if a girl starts falling in love with someone then height is not going to be her priority. in my personal view it feels its a social programming thing.

    • Yes you are right, when I fall in love I dont care a bit!

  • It would appear that I am not the average female then.

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    • Not everyone can be average. We need people to fill out the distribution!

  • Yup I'm the ideal height to throw around in the bedroom

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  • I'm 5'9" and 5'11" is about right. Anywhere above 6' and I'd hate it :c

    Anyway, great methodology :D Wish I'd known you when I was handing in my IB internal assessments, I could've used some help with data processing xD

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    • haha, I know! Luckily, I haven't handed mine in yet, so maybe I could get some help :-D Just kidding:-)

  • Hmmm as a 6ft5 female I must say that my height was never an issue once I started dating more mature men. lol

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  • Being 5'1 makes me not the right height or enough

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  • Height is just something I've never care about when it comes to dating. All I care about is what their face looks like. A guy could be 6'2, but if his face is ugly I want nothing to do with him. Most people I know are like this. I can't think of anyone who believes that height is the deciding factor. It's always about how attractive the face is. Personality is important as well of course, but we're talking about physical attraction right now.

    For me, it's his face first, body and then height. I was with a guy who was shorter than me for a long time, and he obviously didn't have issues finding other girls because he cheated on me with another girl who was taller. She was 5'8 and I am 5'4. So that's definitely proof there that taller girls don't mind shorter guys. He was a handsome man, a very very handsome man.

    My boyfriend right now is 5'6. Maybe it's because I don't see the point in judging someone on something they don't choose. People don;t choose their heights, so it's not fair to judge them on that.

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  • I feel like this stuff is just created to hold back tall women and short men. Why can't we all just be happy with our heights without making it such a big deal? There is always gonna be someone taller/shorter than you...

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    • Because this society is full of stupid stereotypes. We all have our preferences. People should be happy with what they have. I'm short (5'5") and I don't have any problem dating women. People, no matter how you look and how tall you are: BE CONFIDENT!

  • I'm 5'7" :D I dated a guy my height, but yeah, my ideal height is 6'2"

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    • Not surprising. That's around the height predicted by the graphs.

  • Are you a psychology major by any chance? And I'm 5'4... average!

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    • I'd guess sociology major.
      Psychology works more on a case to case basis, sociology looks at trends and patterns in society and social behavior.

    • Neither, I study earth science!

  • I'm about 5 foot 1. So close, yet so far :(

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  • I have a thing for men above 6ft <3. I am 5ft6'. But I would date someone 5ft 11" and above. Height is the only thing I am superficial about.=\

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  • I'm 5'8 and over all satisfied with my height.

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  • i am 5'6'' i feel too tall..

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  • I'm curious as to what you're doing for a career? Lol. You seem good at this.

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    • Hahaha, truthfully I'm back in school part-time picking up some undergrad courses. I guess my "career" was a grad student. I've got my masters degree and some of it was spent doing statistical analyses. I've always had a natural proclivity for research so this sort of stuff comes easy to me. My ideal career would be a researcher who publishes in academic journals, so basically doing this sort of stuff, except more sophisticated lol.

    • You would be great at it :)

    • Thanks! 😆

  • I'm perfect for everyone, let's be honest. :p

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  • I'm 1.57 m and I feel even more like a midget. :(

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  • Lmao I'm 5'0 I liked tis though

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  • I loved this read and how if your taller you'd prefer 7".. I'm 6' and the guys I date are 6'6"+ which is simply a preference of details like you said and as long as it's never doubted that I'm taller I'm happy.. Amazing writing truly loved it and enjoyed

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  • I liked this.

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What Guys Said 33

  • If I hear people complaining about height one more time I will lose it since I suck at emoticons here is my attempted at an angry face -[:

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  • Looks like I'm really late for this one. At 5'4" it looks as though I'm way below average. Sucks big time when it comes to dating.

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  • So what is the perfect height difference? is it 5 inches or 6 inches or 8 inches?

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    • It varies with height.

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    • Mostly teenager girls are care about height too much. Well its not important

    • 4-5 inches or max 6 is my opinion. But what is your opinion?

  • Do you know how many girls I have come across that will not date or even talk to guys below 5'7. All of them.

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  • Dang dude, how long did all this take? My head is spinning from just reading this. I'm 5'4" and apparently am more attracted to gals my height and taller. I read this on occasion. www.match.com/.../

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  • Believe it or not, I'm under 5 ft.

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  • i'm about 5'10

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  • So I'm 5'5 without shoes, obviously well below average for a guy. I normally don't complain since there's nothing I can do about this aspect. Needless to say, I'm single and have always had trouble.

    It's true that I prefer women who are shorter than I am, specifically about 5'1 or shorter. But if those short women generally prefer guys who are 7-10 inches taller, that puts my match at 4'7 to 4'10. Not a lot of those floating around.

    I know of two examples in my life where the woman is at or under 5' but the man is at or over 6'. Of course, it doesn't help that I live in a predominantly traditional town where everyone pretty much marries straight out of college.

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    • Why not go taller? With all the short girls dating tall guys there mist be an abundance of long legged goddesses out there that could sweep you off your feet. Literally. Hahaha

  • A+ for effort and detail.

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  • I am 5'8 and back with my girl Hannah after a short seperation but even with Hannah in toe i am chatted up by girls i think its very sweet but i make sure they know i have eyes for 1 girl and she's Hannah. So in short i am not ashamed to 5.8

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  • I'm only about 5'5-5'6, but I don't care, I've honestly never been insecure of my height or ever wished I was taller (except when playing basketball and have to guard some 6'3 dude).

    Do girls prefer tall guys? Of course, taller guys are more attractive, that's just a general fact of life.

    But I'm not going to let that stop me from enjoying my time on this earth...
    cdn29.elitedaily.com/.../...6366960830832170_n.jpg

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    • "Taller guys are more attractive", that's not true. I've seen some attractive short/average guys. What you meant to say was women in greater numbers are attracted to taller guys for whatever reason. It's never that black and white.

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    • I feel that if a guy is atteactive height doesn't matter, because I've seen ugly tall guys and their tallness does not make them any attractive. I'm 5'4 and my crush is about 5'5 and when i wear shoes that's similar to platform shoes I end up being taller than him or when I wear flats perhaps I'm shorter than him, so to be honest it's about looks and personality so height doesn't really matter to be tbh.

    • @FlutteringFeelings There are girls that don't give a damn. That's why I put "GENERAL fact of life"

  • I'm 6'3 I'm a tower, too tall to see any problems.

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  • I'm 5'5" and I don't give a rat's a$$ 💪

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  • I'm 4'3''. I feel so tall. I wish I was smaller. :(

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  • Join the 6'5 mile high club. Hugging me is the same as a smurf hugging a tree.

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  • Why be average when you can be exceptional? I would still venture to say women prefer taller guys, but since above 5'10" is above average for a male there is a limited supply of above average height males, There is a shortage above average height males, so women have to look elsewhere and there are plenty of average height guys, so of course that is going to be the majority. My rule of thumb is, as long as the guy is taller women are content, which would coincide with your statistics.

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    • I agree when you ask questions like that, a lot of people feel pressure to adjust their answers to reality, not that that's a bad thing, but I do agree while 5'8 is a good height for a guy. It's nothing like 6'4

  • Hey man! This pretty good. Even with this evidence the questions will still come because they come from a place of insecurity. Short or average sized guys will see a 4'11 girl saying she only dates 6'0 guys and focus so much on this obvious outlier that they dont put much significance on the bigger picture

    I appreciate the efforthttp://m.memegen.com/ba6g9l.jpg

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    • Thanks! No doubt the question will keep coming up. I've seen several of them in the last few days so I just refer them here. I did this to be a source of information for users so they could visually see height preferences instead of letting their insecurities drag them down.

    • Yes. my future answers will include a link here in the future!

  • HEY!
    I'm in the Goldilocks zone

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  • i am 6ft flat!
    YES

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  • Too long; didn't read

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