October 06, 2005
Tallness In Women Correlates With Masculine Ambitions
Taller women are more ambitious.
Scots academics questioned 1,220 women from the UK, United States, Canada and Australia and found the taller ones were less broody, had fewer children and were more ambitious. They were also likely to have their first child at a later age.
Shorter women tended to be more maternal and homely, according to research carried out by psychologists Denis Deady, of Stirling University, and Miriam Law Smith, from St Andrews University.
The researchers theorize that higher testosterone made the women taller while simultaneously causing their brains to develop to have more masculine features.
They conclude, rather, that taller women have more of the male sex hormone testosterone, which could give them more “male” traits, such as being assertive, competitive and ambitious.
This is a plausible hypothesis. But note they have not done any biological testing. Such studies are orders of magnitude more expensive. Also, testosterone might be higher in taller women only during development and testing adult women might not catch the higher testosterone.
It would be interesting to know whether homosexual women are taller than heterosexual women on average.
Also, adjusted for IQ are taller women more likely to commit crimes than shorter women? One would expect greater masculinity to correlate with higher crime rates, all else equal.
Also, do taller women have a higher ratio of mathematical and spatial reasoning aptitudes to verbal aptitudes as compared to shorter women?
Taller women are driven less by the desire to have children and more by the desire to succeed in a career.
Ms Law Smith, 27, who is 5ft 7in and has no children, said: "We related the height of every woman with their scores. It wasn't so much that women above a certain height were less maternal . . . more that the taller she was the less maternally driven she was likely to be.
I also wonder whether particular types of diets during development cause changes in the relative ratios of sex hormones. For example, would a high protein versus high fat versus high carbohydrates diet cause small but significant differences in the absolute levels and relative ratios of androgen hormones during development? Or would higher saturated fat versus less saturated fat cause differences in absolute and relative androgen levels? Or how about omega 3 versus omega 6 ratios?
In the longer run will society become more masculine? Will people use offspring genetic engineering techniques to make their daughters slightly more masculine in order to make them more ambitious to pursue careers? Will they make sure all their sons are not wimps? Will most countries become societies of alpha personalities and much higher levels of competition?
Oh my, that's a fascinating hypothesis. It doesn't seem to be backed up by much more than suggestions however. Even testosterone level differences are merely hypothesized versus actual test results.
One could easily take the whole topic and turn it around to hypothesize that taller women are taken more seriously in a man's world so perhaps their ambition and success is a direct result of how seriously they are taken. Once involved in the business world, it has an allure if you are successful. That success could, in turn, totally change your mind about how important your career is and how important bearing children is. Until successful, a woman might suggest that she'd like to get married, have three children and live happily ever after. If she ends in a career she enjoys and is successful, she may 5 years later have a totally different opinion about what happily ever after means.
Maybe when girls are growing up we start treating the taller ones differently (i.e. as if we believe in them more, provide them with more challenges, etc.) rather than continuing to treat them as if they are just little girls capable of being successful at only being a wife and a mother. Just a thought...
Interesting study, but I'm not so sure it carries a lot of weight.
Which might explain why men prefer shorter women. Higher fitness that way.
There are other possibilities too. Almost every tall woman I've encountered has commented on the difficulty in getting a date. After a number of years of being ignored in the dating arena, one might devote oneself to other areas: athletics, academics, business, etc. Just one more hypothesis. Controlled testing needed.
With greater panmixia the world is being gradually Africanized. This results in a tendency toward greater polygyny, greater disparity of wealth and other disparities, such as disparities of IQ, resulting from greater general heterogenity leading to heterozygosity of the population. This raises the stakes for being an alpha male tremendously. The game females must play here is similar to the game African females must play: Self-sufficiency and selection of the most dominant (genetically and socially) alpha male for his genes, with an occasional tryst with a beta male to keep them from killing the kids.
World being africanized? Asianized would be my guess, with a couple of left field exceptions like France and the USA.
You're going to have to account for the transition -- over the course of a single generation -- from a predominantly monogamous, lifetime companionate family structure, to "serial monogamy" which really is serial polygyny, given the progressive centralization of male fertility resulting from it. China is relatively insular for the time being but that could end within a generation as well, now that its prosperity is attracting immigrants. Islam offers a relatively attractive compromise, supporting open polygyny with hard limits (4 life-time wives maximum). This may be why it is such a threat to the West -- which has a rather unstable mix of global panmixia and serial polygyny with bountiful opportunities for free-riders.
I believe JMGordon is on the right track. Men in general prefer women that are shorter than them, and the taller a woman is the smaller her pool of potential dates. Hence, a focus on achievement in areas that one can control is a logical response.
It wouldn't be hard to re-do & measure testosterone: just measure the ratio of their index finger to ring finger (2D:4D). A lower ratio (i.e. index being shorter than the ring) correlates w/ prenatal exposure to male sex hormones, which is more reliable in assessing masculinity than circulating T-levels. I came up empty when googling the web and GNXP archives to see if tall women have lower 2D:4D ratios, but it was a lazy search. Background: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digit_ratio
Men's choice of shorter women is probably not the whole story behind greater childlessness of taller women. If tall women focus on their careers and are less baby-oriented due to lack of male interest in them, then other groups of overlooked females should behave this way as well -- obese women, women w/ more asymmetrical faces, and so on. AFAIK, they're not more career-driven and less baby-oriented than thin women or women w/ symmetrical faces... if anything it's the opposite. Remember, it wasn't just that taller women *had* fewer babies -- it's that they *desired* fewer babies. Obese & asymmetrical women may have fewer babies than normal-weight & symmetrical women, but do they *desire* fewer in order to make room for advancing their career to fill the void left by lack of male interest?
BTW, does anyone know of research looking at how waist-to-hip ratio correlates w/ height in females? I've looked but found nothing. I've yet to see a 5'9+ woman with anything close to the ideal 0.7 hourglass figure (aside from a few non-representive freaks like supermodels), and my hunch is that it's just too hard to pull off that pivoting gait if you're that tall.
Tall women are HOT!
Dunno if I woulda married one tho...
I've always considered them very fertile - but then I've always been drawen to strong opinionated women.
IIRC, women continue growing until the female hormones kick in and puberty starts. Height might not have as much to do with testosterone levels as low female hormone levels.
However, I am very skeptical in general about this studies' conclusions. I have been surrounded all my academic and professional life by short, voluptuous, brilliant women. Scientists, doctors, attorneys (oh those fat bottomed Jewish girls), engineers. You can find droves of them at any SF convention: long hair, glasses, built like brick sh*thouses, hardly ever much above 5'3". Tiny waists, too, very fertile to judge by the flock of Harry Potter readers they've started to accumulate around their ankles. Unquestionable ambitious, advanced degrees and husbands every bit as bright (though the husbands wear beards with their glasses and t-shirts that make puns in calculus, rather than t-shirts that proclaim 'these aren't the breasts you're looking for', because did I mention? The wives are very lush, and have good reason to need anatomical Star Wars puns on their bosoms).
The tall slim women are usually marketing reps from the gaming companies without much to say. We feel sorry for them, because they can't eat chocolate cake.
I must agree with Kat, in that it is an interesting hypothesis, but unfounded by much evidence. Again, I see a study using a correlation to draw a cause-effect conclusion; specifically, that testosterone "caused" the women to grow taller. Perhaps being tall "caused" the women to have high testosterone. Perhaps a third (or fourth, fifth, ...) factor not tested for is responsible.
It is my understanding, admissibly relatively unsophisticated understanding, that it is testosterone that causes male traits. Height is not considered a male trait. Height, however, is strongly correlated to success in Western society. See, generally, the work of Dr. John Caccioppo, a social psychologist. His works in attitude change (along with Dr. Richard Petty - not the race car driver) demonstrate numerous theories on persuasion and perceptions. Taller people, not just women, are perceived as more competent. Most of us have heard a sub-set of this logic, as the taller man generally wins the presidential vote. Might a history of being perceived (and, likely, being told you are) as competent lead one to aspire to greater things? Were tall and short men studied?
Regarding Mr. Bowery's discussion of IQ, sir, I hope you are not suggesting a) that men seem to have higher IQs than women, or b) that Africans (or black people in general) have lower IQs that others. I hope you are referring to the general statistic that people who test with higher IQs tend to be more educated, tend to have better-paying jobs, and tend to produce fewer children. (Again, I state "tend." There is no cause-effect implicit in tendencies.) Men, historically, have "tended" to score higher on IQ tests for the same reason whites have; the test is biased in their favor by design. Any test designed by a given culture will contain biases (probably unintentional) that skew the test in favor of members of that culture. Most of the IQ tests used are designed by white men (on the East Coast of the U.S.). They contain language and other biases that subtly effect results.
Anyone who would dispute my data on IQ testing best have very strong data, as this has been a focus of considerable study. Further, consider this: no matter how high your IQ is, imaging taking the IQ test in Russian/Chinese/Farsee or any language that you do not speak. Now imagine taking it in a language you speak only moderately well (for me, Spanish or Japanese). In the first instance, I bet you would come out scoring dumb as a stump. In the second, you would likely come out scoring higher, but still not as high as you could. These examples are more extreme illustrations of race/cultural bias in the tests. I test remarkably well on the white, male, East Coast centric exams. I am only culturally one of those things.
I think men tend to favor shorter women because men tend to favor women shorter than they are. I think they tend to favor this because Western society is biased toward a dominant (read "taller, bigger") male. The taller a women, the fewer tall men there are. My good friend Julie, 5'9" married Chris, 6'6". Chris is a fine gentleman who could marry a woman of any height. Julie is just damn tall for a woman. Yes, she dated few men.
But most women want a man who will help raise her children. Yes, getting pregnant is the easy part. But getting a guy who will make money and help out and whose company is tolerable is a lot harder for women. Some women who can not manage that decide to not reproduce.
I agree with the argument very tall women have fewer mate choices. So I certainly expect them to have fewer children for that reason. But I suspect this latest research points to an obvious other cause of differences in reproductive rates.
I agree on both points, and I would point to any difference in maternal behavior between tall women and short, fat, ugly women as confirmation of another influence. However, the other influence might be as simple as ugly women face a more hostile world that discourages their ambitions making them just that much more needy for the affirmation of motherhood.
Here's the Stirling University study:
Hello? They used online surveys, they never took a single blood sample. They =theorized= that since the tall women were ambitious, they must have masculine traits, and if the tall women had masculine traits, clearly they must be producing higher levels of testosterone, because after all, everybody knows that feminine women can't be ambitious.
Height does not correlate with testosterone production in females. Late onset of puberty from low sex hormones correlates with height (not to mention genetics, it helps to come from tall stock).
This from an article about giving short children a few more inches:
"According to Yanovski, a continuous dose of LHRH shuts down the hormone-producing pituitary gland, which in turn shuts down the ovaries and the testes, and children return to a low hormone state. A low hormone state lets bones continue to grow."
Low sex hormones = tall
High testosterone in females causes beard growth, acne, thickening of waists and serious fetility issues. Ask any short woman with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Have you seen many tall women sporting a mustache? I can't imagine that I've blocked the sight of that many beared Brunhildas.
Online survey, ha. The internet is great, because nobody can see your true height, and wouldn't you be tempted to add a few inches too? I really wouldn't trust this study's data. This reminds me of that 'women like the smell of jerk men' study a few months ago. Not a single blood sample or hormone level taken. The stats were so massaged that they made even our hospital biostatician laugh.
Tree, 5'2", though everyone thinks I'm 5'7"
Gentlemen, you are making certain assumptions in your responses to me. Generally, the assumption is that I am not already familiar with the material you are citing. While I have not read all of it, I am entirely familiar the The Bell Curve, the controversy surrounding it, and that it has been largely discredited for the very reasons I cited in my above post.
I have also been closely following what is being called The Harvard Debate, the round of studies, meta-analysis, and commentary following the President of Harvard's ill advised remarks on women and math. The data seems clear that, while there are obvious differences between men and women, including measurable differences in learning styles, there is no way to correct for cultural/learned aspects of these differences. Given my understanding of child psycological development (which I was forced to study in detail), I can see no way of obtaining data untainted by cultural/learned factors. By the time a person is old enough to communicate, they have been bombarded with cultural factors. Any study drawing conclusions based on the reactions of infants, as some of the "male supremacy" studies cited in the Harvard Debate do, are clouded by difficulties in interpretation. Some of the studies also used inappropriatly small samples.
I am familiar with bell curves and other statisitical data. I am also familiar with critical thinking. It is important to recognize studies that seek to promote or propigate political postitions. When such works are identified, they must be scrutinized closely. The Bell Curve, such a work, did not stand up under the microscope. It has been revealed as inexact and biased. So have most of the studies purporting male superiority. Other studies are so intertwined with cultural factors as to be uninformative. Given that Western society has been dominated by the male perspective since time imemorial, even what society considers "meritorious" is generally defined by males. As people generally favor and prize what they themselves are good at, it would surprize me little for studies to conclude that men have more meritorious traits than women.
As for additonal considerations of meritocracy in American society, I direct you to http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200511/college-and-meritocracy . Money and privilege are also tied to opportunity. Yes, gifted individuals without money can and do succeed; Colin Powell is living proof. Statistics are not proof, just evidence. But consider, that coming from a well-to-do family leaves a 50/50 chance of going to college, and families with mean incomes under $35,000 having only a 1/17 chance of ever even GOING to college, how can we claim to have meritocracy? The truly gifted and dedicated can fight their way to resources, but there are simply not enough resources.
Even if there are sufficient resources, many people don't even know they exist. I work with such people, people who don't realize there are government loan programs, who don't truly understand loans at all. Stupid? Maybe. Ignorant? Yes. Not the same thing at all.
As for Tree and the online survey method ... I must agree that self-reporting and surveys in general are not the best way to gather data. An on-line survey seems to be completely uncontrolled. Even in the university environment, where the experimenter sees the subject, the pool of subjects is skewed; they are mostly students in general psych classes. Given the statistics at http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200511/college-and-meritocracy, this is already a highly select group. Even if they answer/perform true, without a more realistic population (dare I say it, one more representative of a bell curve?), the results from a skewed pool will produce skewed results. Your discussion of developmental hormones reminds me once again of Dr. Randall and Biological Aspects of Behavior. We didn't study physical development, though.
As for testosterone and correlations, here are a few. Female lawyers have higher testosterone (than female non-lawyers, I presume). Male trial lawyers have higher testosterone than other men and even than other types of lawyer. Given that I am a female trial lawyer, does this mean that I have high testosterone? In fact, I do. I would warn against any cause/effect type reasoning, though.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have a filing due to the IL Supreme Court next week and would like to get some research done.
The Bell Curve was not proven wrong. Discredited? Well, all good believers in the high church liberal faith agreed to say that it was discredited. But I read a lot of the critical commentary on the book and the bulk of the critics knew nothing about psychometrics. Many critics proudly proclaimed they'd never read the book. It was "discredited" in the same ways that the believers in biblical creation claim that evolution has been discredited.
The tie between money and privilege: People who are accepted to the Ivy League but decide to attend lesser ranked schools do just as well as those who are accepted and attend an Ivy League school. So where's the benefit of the expensive education? It is a mirage. The intelligence and other factors that it takes to get accepted to a top school are far more important than actually attending the top school.
A study of Korean adoptees in America (see the graph at this link) provides another recent demonstration of the lack of influence of a so-called "privileged" upbringing (and see the follow-up post). How to explain away that result? How to explain away other trans-racial adoption studies?
Liberals tout the power of SocioEconomic Status (SES). But properly adjust for IQ and the vast bulk of that influence vanishes.
Remember, the main reason for going to an Ivy isn't to prove that you're smarter than others, but to become a member of a high ranking elite with lots of buisness contacts and some considerably clout.
If the connections from an Ivy education were as strong as some claim then they'd be measurable by looking at income post-graduation. But, again, people accepted who do not attend do just as well in career income as those who are accepted who do attend.
The Ivys sell themselves to prospects as great for education and connections. But their graduates do well due to characteristics that got them accepted in the first place. Since very ambitious and very bright people go to the Ivys their graduates do way better than the average college graduate. But that's a result of who gets in, not what happens while they are enrolled.
My claim about the lack of added value from attending elite universities is based on a 2003 National Bureau of Economic Research paper by Alan Krueger of Princeton and Stacy Berg Dale of the Mellon Foundation:
In a recent NBER Working Paper, Stacy Berg Dale and Alan Krueger try two novel approaches to solving this problem. In Estimating The Payoff To Attending A More Selective College: An Application of Selection On Observable and Unobservables (NBER Working Paper No. 7322) they use data from the College and Beyond Survey to match 6,335 students who were accepted and rejected by a comparable set of colleges in 1976. They then compare labor market outcomes in 1995 among students who had the same menu of choices, but among whom some attended more selective schools than others. They also use this data set and the National Longitudinal Survey of the High School Class of 1972 to estimate the impact on students' subsequent earnings of the average SAT scores of all the schools they applied to as well as the average SAT score of the school they attended.
They find that school selectivity, measured by the average SAT score of the students at a school, doesn't pay off in a higher income over time. "Students who attended more selective colleges do not earn more than other students who were accepted and rejected by comparable schools but attended less selective colleges," the researchers write. They also find that the average SAT score of the schools students applied to but did not attend is a much stronger predictor of students' subsequent income than the average SAT score of the school students actually attended.
The SAT is fairly highly g-loaded. So the SAT score results as a predictor of success amount to yet another demonstration that intelligence level is the strongest predictor of success.
Also read Dan Seligman's Forbes coverage of that NBER paper and some other related NBER papers.
Here is another summary of Dale and Krueger's work on the lack of benefit from elite school attendance.
To do so, Dale and Krueger examined the 1976 freshmen of 34 colleges. They ranged from Yale, Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore (highest in SAT scores) to Penn State and Denison University (lowest in scores). The SAT gap between top and bottom was about 200 points. Dale and Krueger knew which colleges had accepted and rejected these students as well as their future earnings. By 1995, male graduates with full-time jobs earned an average of $89,026; women earned $76,859.
Dale and Krueger then compared graduates who had been accepted and rejected by the same (or similar) colleges. The theory was that admissions officers were ranking personal qualities, from maturity to ambition. Students who fared similarly would possess similar strengths; then, Dale and Krueger compared the earnings of these students -- regardless of where they went. There was no difference. Suppose that Princeton and Podunk accept you and me; but you go to Princeton and I go to Podunk. On average, we will still make the same. (The result held for blacks and whites, further weakening the case for race-based admission preferences. The only exception was poorer students, regardless of race; they gained slightly from an elite school.)
So much for the theory that elite education is the door into some sort of powerful old boys network.
I think you are wasting your time with Hunter. Anyone who says "It is important to recognize studies that seek to promote or propigate political postitions. When such works are identified, they must be scrutinized closely." demonstrates a profound ignorance of science and the scientific method. All cogent hypotheses must be scrutinized closely. Critical thinkers do not apply the skill selectively; they seek to overcome bias while evaluating facts.
Since she is a lawyer, she is very, very likely a high verbal who probably thinks "hermeneutics" is science. I sincerely doubt she has seen a single datum relevant to The Bell Curve, and I further doubt she has the numeracy to evaluate such data even if she has. She certainly wrote enough about the data she alleges to have seen while providing only a link to a popular magazine that seems not to demonstrate anything relevant. Stupid people earn less money, save less of what they earn and conceive average to below average children as predicted by regression to the mean. Why should anyone find that noteworthy?
She has already stated that nobody is capable of separating cultural influences from innate influences. So pointing out the results from identical twins raised apart, won't do you a bit of good.
Since you are part of the white european male hegemonic scientific tradition she has been conditioned to ignore, you won't reach her. I suspect you would have the same chances convincing a Hindu nazi that Vedic science is anything but science.
What's truly scary is the thought we frequently rely on such people to be our most important judges of reality -- namely judges.
I think you are wasting your time with Hunter. Anyone who says "It is important to recognize studies that seek to promote or propigate political postitions. When such works are identified, they must be scrutinized closely." demonstrates a profound ignorance of science and the scientific method. (etc.)
Wow. A little challenge to the hermetic reality is all it takes to get some people to fly into a narcissistic rage and begin the ad hominum attacks.
Your arguments sound intellectually bankrupt to me, especially when this study of which we've been speaking didn't follow the scientifc method very well and drew conclusions not based on evidence.
I am especially embarassed for you for the lack of understanding of reproductive biology that your enthusian for this study has demonstrated. But that probably explains how you can stand blustering, not realizing what that little high testosterone minx just handed you.
I don't expect that you boys bothered to read the Atlantic story? Of course not. So much more exciting to attack than to research and consider.
I'm sure in a few decades it will be a very great surprise when engineers and scientists in Bangalore are making the IQ study news, trumpeting the racial superiority of...whoever. The Powers That Be always find a way to justify their reign, whether it's Greeks sneering at the intellectual capacity of Gauls, Romans sneering at Greeks, Normans sneering at Italians. Fer crying out loud! Nobody has read Guns Germs and Steel? Sheesh, you can watch the Cliff Notes version. Order it online from National Geographic.
I'm only sensitive to this sort of racial (or sexual) IQ chauvanism since my mother was raised in Nazi Germany and I heard way too much of the same garbage for most of my life. Why is it that the stink of bad science is so much like the stench of rotting flesh? One wonders. Because it seems like the 1930's again to me; that stink is in the air again. So many young men, enraged that their economic future is limited and they can't afford a wife and family, that they can't get regular, socially sanctioned sexual access. So many turning to authoritarianism, to Fundamentalism, for any reassurance that My Group is smarter, stronger and more deserving and those women we can't have are all b*tches anyway. Especially the lawyers.
If you had actually read my posting, you would have realized that I have, in fact, read The Bell Curve. The person who, for me, was responsible for picking it to shreds was my clinical psych professor, Dr. Gormenzano, who basically felt the book was a contempable piece of garbage. He was so subtle with his language.
Be very, very careful when citing twin studies. The most popular twin study of all time, by Cyril Burt, was proved to be a complete fraud. If that or any of the inferences drawn from it are your source, your conclusions are incorrect. I am also a twin and thus in a somewhat unique position to see how my twin and I have developed both together and apart. I support a combo of nature/nurture theories.
Further, please do not make generalizations about what I have and have not read based on a few postings on your on-line journal. Yes, it is very, very likely that I am highly verbal. I have already admitted that I am a trial lawyer, but would you believe that the kind of trials I do are patent litigation? How about, to be more specific, biopatent litigation? There are plenty of lawyers out there who hold multiple high-level degrees including M.D.s, chemistry Ph.D.s and the like. Don't assume I'm "chick" Matlock, please.
As for all hypothesis being scrutinized closely, I would take that as a given in any scientific undertaking. For clarity, I will state that once works seeking to promote or propigate political postitions are identified, they must be scrutinized even more closely than usual; the proponent of such a theory is likely to be highly selective of their data - or may even create it to prove their point. See Cyril Burt.
And Tree, thank you for calling me a bitch. I am, in fact, a bitch. I'm proud of it. However, if I was a man, I would be called "determined" or "opinionated." But I'm a woman in a mysogenist's society, so bitch it must be.
I'm tall (5'10") and guys constantly hit on me left, right and center. Short guys, tall guys, young guys, old men. I've even had two eight year old boys cat call whistle at me once. I'm tall in a feminine, modelesque way, and I get approached by modeling agencies a lot, but I get lots of attention from men everywhere..and I think my height has contributed to it. I also have a young, cute looking face with a perportioned body of 36-26-36, with long blond hair and big boobs so that might be why.
I'm tall(5'11") and men hit on me everytime.tell men, short men,slime,young and old men,l'm tall in feminine and in a modelesque way,but l get attention from men any way l go to,and l think my height has contributed to it.l have a cute fase with a good body of 34-26-36,with a dark hair so that may be why.Any way l go the would turn round ang look at me.
sounds like melanie and festanna are the same person :P