The study, authored by Gayle Brewer and Charlene Riley, examined 98 heterosexual men, aged 18 to 72, who were currently in a romantic relationship and was published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology in 2009.
The men completed four questionnaires used to determine their age, height, relationship satisfaction, and amount of jealous thoughts and behaviors.
There was a significant relationship found between height, relationship satisfaction, and jealousy. According to the authors, “tall men reported greater relationship satisfaction and reported lower levels of jealous cognition or jealous behavior” compared to shorter men.
Although tall men and short men reported differences in jealous cognition and behavior, there was no difference in their reported emotional response to infidelity.
Tall men may have less jealous cognition and behavior because women report finding taller men more attractive than shorter men. Due to this, taller men may have a smaller risk of having an adulterous partner. Thus, as the authors say, “shorter men should be more alert to the risk of their partner’s infidelity or the presence of male rivals than tall men.”
The Role of Jealousy
Jealousy is often considered a negative emotion and is associated with negative behaviors. Regardless, jealousy has an important function in romantic relationships.
“The elicitation of jealousy allows an individual to identify those individuals or circumstances that present the greatest threat to their relationship,” as the authors of the study explain.
Although the response to this threat can sometimes manifest itself in destructive behaviors, such as domestic abuse and violence, this is not necessarily the case. Some may respond with more constructive behaviors, such as becoming more attentive and caring. Having a jealous partner also might also be an important indication of their level of commitment to the relationship.
Brewer, G. & Riley, C. (2009) Height, relationship satisfaction, jealousy, and mate retention. Evolutionary Psychology, Vol 7, No 3: 477-489.