Research indicates that the human brain uses height as a heuristic for determining social status and fitness.The brain automatically associates physical size with leadership potential, power, strength and intelligence, a effect which has been discovered in infants as young as 10 months old.
Evolutionary psychologists theorise that this is due to height indicating that the individual had been better fed, indicating higher social status and thus resources available to them, as well as indicating general health and physical strength, the latter of which can be useful in asserting dominance.The automatic association between height and the aforementioned traits has also been found to be much stronger when it comes to assessing men than women.Men may compensate 1.3 BMI units with a 1 percent higher wage than their wife.Women may compensate 2 BMI units with an additional year of higher education.However, this correlation, though statistically significant, is generally weak and does not imply that variations in stature have a direct effect on cognitive ability.
Though significant correlations have been found in early and late childhood in both developed and developing countries, in adults, changes in environment and social status reduce the strength of this correlation.
Moreover, research on leg length and leg-to-body ratio conflicts with the notion that there is a distinct preference for taller mates.
A 2008 study found that both extremes, tall and short, reduced attractiveness, and a 2006 study found that a lower leg-to-body ratio in men and higher leg-to-body ratio in women increased aesthetic appeal.
As with all correlations, there may be other factors at work.
For example, several epidemiological studies have shown a statistically significant positive correlation between height and intelligence in human populations.
Biologically, from an evolutionary perspective, these findings are consistent with data relating height to human health.