Well, the researchers here didn’t actually decipher that peculiarity of the human mating system. They merely verified some of the patterns you observe on a daily basis.
Many Westerners will tell you that their ideal mate is tall, whether male of female. There’s good reason for that: Good childhood nutrition maximizes the growth potential of the leg bones. So tallness is one indication of a high quality childhood, an indication which might also translate into good adult health. And everybody prefers a healthy mate.
But do we actually hook up with our ideals?
In a massive study of mated people in the UK, the patterns reflect informal observations:
Men don’t tend to marry women taller than themselves; women don’t tend to marry men shorter than themselves.
Tall women marry men close to their own height.
Short men, ditto.
But it’s the short women/tall men pairing that was notable. These classes both preferred, apparently, a big difference between themselves and their mates. I’m soooo curious as to why, and this paper cannot reveal that.
Whatever the cause, the effect of these patterns was smallish. Apparently a lot more goes into our mate choice than height.
But would you have guessed, given your sophisticated brain, your preference for a mate with wit and style, and your iron-clad insistence on a partner who shares your politics, your religion, and your taste for Vietnamese food, that height counts at all?