The Crazy Way Your Height Influences Who You Find Attractive

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The Crazy Way Your Height Influences Who You Find Attractive

Some women have a preference for tall men, others for short men, and still others for tall and/or short men.

But what about couples who have similar heights? Is that just a preference or is there a biological reason behind it?

A study published recently in Genome Biology found that the genes that determine a person's height also influence whom they find attractive, and that the choice of a partner with a similar phenotype (observable trait) is genetically determined.

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The study, which consisted of an analysis of the genotype (an individual's collection of genes) of more than 13,000 human heterosexual couples, found that the genes that determine your height also affect your choice of mate by height, and provided an understanding of why we often choose partners who are similar in height.

"Our genes drive our attraction for partners of similar height to ours. We found that 89 percent of the genetic variation affecting individual preferences for height and one's own height are shared, indicating that there's an innate preference for partners of similar height," lead researcher Albert Tenesa said.

The researchers then used an independent dataset of 15,437 couples where only one of the partners had been genotyped in order to predict the other partner's height.

"Using one partner's genes for height, we estimated the height of the chosen partner with 13 percent accuracy," Dr. Tenesa said.

"The similarity in height between partners is driven by the observed physical appearance of the partner, specifically their height, rather than influenced by the social or genetic structure of the population we live in."

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There's still much research to be done on this subject, but we have made some progress.

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According to Dr. Tenesa, "How we choose our partners has important biological implications for human populations. This study brings us closer to understanding the complex nature of sexual attraction and the mechanisms that drive human variation."

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She's had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, and Woman's Day. Visit her website or and her Instagram.

Editor's Note: This article was originally posted on February 9, 2016 and was updated with the latest information.

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