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Female preferences for male height may thus be interpreted as a preference for health and longevity in a mate. The fact that there are limits to female preferences for height adds circumstantial support to this argument: Height may also serve as a cue to male dominance for review, see Buunk et al. Moreover, people stereotypically judge tall men as more dominant and assertive [36]. From an evolutionary perspective, these findings suggest that height may serve as an indicator of competitive ability against rival males [28].

Thus, in addition to potential health and longevity benefits, women may prefer taller men because they are more likely to be dominant and hold higher social status. Although, on average, women prefer taller over shorter men, while men prefer women of average height, [5] , there are also systematic inter-individual differences in height preferences.

Furthermore, taller men and shorter women tend to prefer larger partner height differences [10] , [37] than those who are shorter, which is hypothesised to increase the pool of potential partners available to such individuals [10]. Such self-similarity preferences are also observed in actual pair formation: Finally, it has been shown that both men and women avoid extreme height differences in their partners: This latter preference may also be adaptive, as women in couples with a larger than average height difference experience a higher risk of birth complications [41]. Although heterosexual preferences and choice for partner height have received considerable attention, little is known about these among homosexual individuals.

Previous studies report that homosexual men show a male-typical mating psychology, including an interest in casual sex and sexually explicit visual material [42] , as well as showing male-typical mate retention behavior [43]. Similar to heterosexual men, homosexual men value physical attractiveness in their potential partners more than heterosexual women [44] , and they prefer potential partners who are younger than themselves [45] , [46].

Thus, it seems that the effect of gender on variation in partner preference is stronger than the effect of sexual orientation [47]. Having said this, homosexual men also prefer men who are described as typically masculine [48] ; in particular, they prefer masculine male voices [49] and faces [50].


There are, however, striking individual differences in preferences for facial masculinity in homosexual men: Preferences for sex-typical traits i. Based on a North American and Latino American sample, it has been suggested that anal sex between homosexual men not only represents activity leading to sexual pleasure, but is also connected to other personality, or interpersonal factors, such as masculinity and sexual power - the same being true for heterosexual individuals [53] , [54].

Specifically, it has been shown that men who exhibit a passive role in sexual intercourse are perceived as more feminine, whereas the opposite is true of men exhibiting the active role. The main aim of the current study was to explore height preferences and actual partner height characteristics of homosexual men.

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We also examined whether preferences were influenced by the preferred role adopted during sexual intercourse and the preferred dominance role in a relationship. In particular, we examined the influence of preferred and actual sexual roles i. Given that height has been shown to relate strongly to dominance cues, we predicted this would be related to the dominance relationship between partners, with those expressing a preference to be more dominant preferring shorter partners relative to those who prefer to be submissive.

In general, according to interpersonal theory, the dominance dimension is one of the two primary dimensions of interpersonal behavior in addition to the affiliation dimension [56] , [57]. Complementarity of dominant and subordinate behavior also serves to regulate aggression and conflict and facilitates cohesion in social group encounters including dyads [58].

More precisely, we hypothesized that men who prefer to be rather dominant towards a potential partner will prefer shorter partners, while men preferring rather a submissive role in their relationships will show preferences for taller men, and a similar pattern was also expected to appear in actual same-sex couples. All participants were recruited via snowball sampling through the use of mailing-lists obtained for our previous studies, and through advertisements on Facebook. All participants were of Czech origin. Data were collected through an online questionnaire using Qualtrics Qualtrics Inc.

At the start of the survey, the participants gave their informed consent via an online form.

This required a mouse-click to confirm their willingness to take part, and enabled them to proceed to the survey. Only measures relevant to this study are reported below. Participants were asked if they had a stable male sexual partner at the time of the study. In total, There were missing values on relationship status for twenty-two men. Each participant reported on his height in cm.

To assess preferences for stature differences between a participant and his ideal partner i. Variation in height differences was set up in the following fashion: The data on variation in male height was based on a representative sample of Czech adult men [59].


This resulted in 9 drawings of male couples that varied in their relative height, centred on a couple of equal height see Figure 1. Participants were asked to select the drawing that depicted the preferred relative height difference between them and their ideal partner, and were subsequently asked to select the drawing that depicted the actual relative height difference between them and their actual partner. Participants who were single at the time of the study, but reported having a stable relationship in the past, were asked to indicate the relative height difference between them and their most recent former partner.

The question asked: 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. Given that we ran several correlation analyses, we have a greater probability of making a Type 1 error i. After applying a Bonferroni correction, all reported findings remained significant, except one, which had an uncorrected p-value of.

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We report p-values without corrections. All analyses were performed using SPSS As shown in Table 1 and Figure 2 , The horizontal line reflects a preference for a partner of similar height. Visual examination of Figure 2 shows that, on average, men with partners of the same height would have preferred to be shorter than their partners, whereas men who were either much taller or much shorter than their actual partners expressed a preference for a smaller height difference Figure 2.

This effect was more pronounced, however, among men who were much taller than their partners Figure 2. 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. 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. 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.

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  7. 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. 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. 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].