"In his initial experiments, Pavlov rang a bell and then gave the dog food; after a few repetitions, the dogs started to salivate in response to the bell. Pavlov called the bell the conditioned (or conditional) stimulus (CS) because its effects depend on its association with food."
Replace the bell with "tall men" and the food with "positive traits." I've heard lines like "for a short man, you have the confidence of a 7-footer." Of course people are the dogs.
Now, some may say humans are more sophisticated than dogs, so I can't compare the two.
My problem with that is how people use the opposite argument when it fits their narrative. They'll say something along the lines of "despite our laws and technology, we're still primitive animals at heart, so that's why we prefer tall men."
Okay, fine. So what makes you think your desires and needs are beyond brainwashing?
If humans are ultimately primitive (like dogs), then we're also susceptible to conditioning. If we're so civilized, then we should be able to overcome height bias, just like we do with racism, homophobia, sexism, etc.
Just something to think about. I for one believe it's conditioning, because tribal cultures don't have height biases, and many strong short men are still slighted in favor of weaker tall ones. It's all about social status.