New research shows taller people tend to be slightly smarter for two reasons: The same genes affect both traits and taller people are more likely than average to have children with smarter people, according to a new study reported in Medical News Today.
The study, led by the University of Colorado Boulder, did not find that environmental factors contributed to the connection between being taller and being smarter. The modest correlation between height and IQ has been documented in many studies dating to the 1970s, but scientists have not been able to explain the link.
Researchers at CU-Boulder said their findings support the idea that "selected traits" — characteristics that individuals find desirable in mates — tend to be linked.
"Not just in humans but also in animals, you see that traits that are sexually attractive tend to be correlated," said Matthew Keller, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at CU-Boulder who led the study published in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS Genetics.
"So if you have animals that are high on one sexually selected trait they are often high on other ones, too. And the question has always been, 'What's the cause of that?' And it has always been very difficult to tease apart the two potential genetic reasons that those could be related."