Are you a tall person looking for a better half who has the same towering presence? It may be in your genes.

It is not the most romantic idea around, but scientists found that mate choice is influenced partly by genes that also govern one’s physical height.

The research – an investigation of more than 13,000 white-British heterosexual couples’ genotypes – discovered that height-determining genes also influence one’s choice of partner based on height, which may explain why people choose a mate of a similar or close-enough vertical measurement.

The team, probing both physical traits and underlying genetic variations in mate selection, found that genes drive attraction for a partner of similar height, such as a tall man dating a tall woman.

“We found that 89 percent of the genetic variation affecting individual preferences for height and one's own height are shared,” explained lead study author Albert Tenesa of the University of Edinburgh in a press release.

Tenesa added that the results indicated an “innate preference” for a romantic partner of similar height.

The team used a partner’s height genes to estimate the height of a chosen partner, with 13 percent accuracy. Observed physical appearance – particularly height – toppled genetic or social structures of a given population in explaining the height similarity between partners.

What this meant: genotype determined both phenotype and preference for a partner.

“[It] is more than just a chance event,” added the researchers, highlighting the mating pattern called assortative mating.

Mate selection driven by height holds crucial biological and social consequences. Assortative mating, for instance, influences the arrangement of DNA variation in the genome, also potentially affecting other human characteristics and even susceptibility to disease.

A quantitative human trait, height is determined by the interrelationship of hereditary and environmental factors. While previous studies have noticed height as a key trait in the selection of a significant other, there has been nothing much to explain why most tend to be attracted to someone of a similar height.

The findings were published in the journal Genome Biology.

Photo: Pedro Ribeiro Simões | Flickr

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