In a study of 60,058 heterosexual men and women, researchers at Chapman University found that very short men and women had fewer “sex partners” than those of average height, with underweight men and women also reporting lower than average numbers of sexual partners.
It also showed that men of average height to extremely tall height had between one and three more sex partners than shorter than average men.
Dr David Frederick, assistant professor in psychology at the university, said the findings confirm that height is a relevant factor on the “mating market”.
“However, the relatively limited variation in sex partner number for men across the height continuum is difficult to explain,” he said.
“Research has repeatedly shown that women prefer men who are relatively taller than they are. It is possible that for most women there is a certain minimum threshold of height, after which they will consider a male as a potential sex partner, and thus men above that height will end up with similar numbers of sex partners,” he added.
The average number of sexual partners recorded for people aged between 30 and 44 since they had been sexually active was eight. A total of 58 per cent of men and 56 per cent of women reported having more than five sex partners, while 29 per cent of men and 56 per cent of women reported more than 14 sex partners. Overall, the study was made up of 52 per cent male and 48 per cent female participants.
While underweight men and women had fewer sexual partners than average, men who were in the middle of their body mass indexes (BMI) and men who were technically overweight were found to have the most sexual partners.
“Although it may be initially surprising that more overweight men reported the highest number of partners, it is important to note that the medical classification of overweight does not necessarily map onto social perceptions of overweight,” Dr Frederick said.
“Men who appear somewhat larger, more powerful, or more athletic generally report more sexual experiences than other men.”
He added there are “numberous possibilities” as to why underweight women were found to have fewer partners, however.
“They may be highly dissatisfied with their weight and suffering from anorexia and thus not motivated to show their bodies; additionally, being underweight is associated with a relatively high mortality rate and/or they could be suffering from a variety of ailments that cause weight loss and thus have fewer sex partners because they are dealing with serious health issues.”