CU study uses twins and their parents to link height and IQ

CU sophomore Alexandria Harding is a fraternal twin who only dates tall men who share her intellect.

A university research group found that people with Harding’s intellect also tend to be taller. The CU study compared the genes of thousands of paternal and fraternal twins and their parents and found that sexually attractive traits  height and intelligence are linked and genetically inherited, according to an Aug. 27 university news release.

The release said that this correlation has been studied since the 1970s, but the research method conducted by assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience Matthew Keller was unique because it was one of the fist times parents’ genes were taken into account.

However contradictory to the study’s findings, Harding is not considered tall  at 5 feet 2 inches, she is actually a little shorter than the average American woman  even though she is smart.

“I have never taken an IQ test, but I have always received pretty good grades and thrived in the academic environment,” Harding said. She felt that her success in school was due partly to genetics and her parents’ support.

Harding’s twin brother Lance is both “artistically brilliant” and tall.

After the CU study analyzed data from 7,905 twins and parents, it was discovered that most people, like Lance, had both favorable traits.

The study also found that people with those favorable genes look for the same qualities in their partners. This was true for Harding and her brother.

“I have only dated guys who have been 6 feet 1 inch and up,” she said. Harding is also “attracted to incredibly brilliant people.” 

The study differed from similar research in that it found economic status, diet, exercise and other environmental factors are not involved in determining a person’s tallness and intelligence.

CU sociology professor Glenda Walden said she is skeptical about “the claim that no environmental factors contribute to height and IQ.” Modern day nutrition and education likely play a role, she said.

Walden could understand how people with sexually attractive traits might pair off in today’s society.

“Tall women end up with slightly taller men because culturally that’s how we roll,” she said. “We end up with people who are amazingly similar to us. Opposites attract, but they don’t stick. Similarities stick.”

What does this mean in the long run?

“We have a much clearer understanding of why height and IQ are related,” Keller said. “In a broader sense, we can use the same model for other phenotypes.”

Keller said that his research method can be used by a variety of scientists to study how other sexually attractive traits are correlated.

Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Bria Burgamy at Bria.burgamy@colorado.edu, twitter.com/briakburgamy.

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