Anyone who has tried online dating in the past few years know that height is a big deal. Some users will completely filter out people above or below a certain height. But according to new research, height might not be as big a deal as you think.
In a study aptly titled "Height and Body Mass on the Mating Market," researchers at Chapman University in California surveyed more than 60,000 heterosexual men and women with an average age of 37. Overall, more than half of participants said they had more than five sex partners. But those numbers varied when they factored in height and weight.
Very short men (between 5'2" and 5'4") had the fewest sex partners, and the number of partners went up with height. Overweight men and normal-weight men (based on BMI) had the most sex partners, while underweight men had the fewest.
Because BMI can be an unreliable estimate of physical fitness, the "overweight" men might simply have been bulkier and more muscular. "Men who appear somewhat larger, more powerful, or more athletic generally report more sexual experiences than other men," lead author David Frederick, PhD, said in a statement.
The variation was less pronounced among women, though the patterns were similar. Very short women (4'11" or shorter) had fewer sex partners, and so did underweight women. Frederick says that issues like eating disorders or health conditions might be leading to the low weights, and those tend to affect things like self-esteem. The authors also say that very thin women can sometimes be considered extremely attractive, and thus they can be choosier with partners.
The September 2015 study, which was published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, was limited because it was based on self-reporting of height, weight and sexual partners, and only counted heterosexual people. Plus, people interested in talking about sex would be more likely to fill out the survey. But the authors say that it adds new insight into how people choose partners. Heterosexual women, for example, may have a minimum threshold of height that they prefer in a man, but don't care how tall he is past that. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, heterosexual men don't seem to have much of a preference either way.