Many people with a short stature aim to be tall. Some of them even take extreme measures, such as doing surgery to lengthen their bones despite many dangers and limitations in life. But what are the reasons why we wish to be a few inches taller and how much impact does height have on our personal life?
Several studies have shown that a culture that prefers externally tall stature affects many factors in life. According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index daily polls of the US population, taller people are more likely to share positive emotions such as enjoyment and happiness. They are also less likely to worry about the negative aspects of life such as sadness or physical pain. Taller height is as well positively associated with income, education, power or sexual attraction.
Height Related to Higher Power and Education
The taller you are, the more likely you are to have higher education. Men greater than 194 cm are two to three times more likely to have higher education than men less than 165 cm. In a similar vein, taller height is also associated with professional success. In fact, it is estimated that a person six feet tall is likely to make about $150,000 more in thirty years than a person who is five feet four. Taller height is also related to power. For example, one study using data relating to presidential elections found that height was an important influence in US presidential elections. According to the study, candidates that were taller than their opponents received more popular votes, although they were not significantly more likely to win the actual election. Taller presidents had as well a bigger chance of getting reelected. The study revealed that tall presidents are valued more highly and that their leadership and communication skills are considered as excellent by experts.
Height and Physical Attraction
One study that used a large dataset of Italian married (or cohabiting) couples, investigated whether individual height and weight affect the probability of marrying with a partner, that has higher educational attainment and labor income. The results suggested that height is indeed a desirable attribute in the mating selection. Taller individuals tend to mate with more educated partners. These findings were confirmed for both men and women, but being taller seems more important for men, whereas being slimmer is more relevant for women
Height Perception and Paranoia
Scientists at Oxford University carried out an interesting study about height perception and paranoia. For their experiment, they recruited 60 adult women who had reported feelings of paranoia in the month beforehand. The test subjects were given a VR helmet and took two virtual subway rides with computer-generated subjects around them. In one of the rides, the subject’s point of view was lowered by 30 cm to see how the change of perspective affects the virtual passengers. The results, published in the journal Psychiatry Research, showed that reducing a person’s height can increase feelings of vulnerability and raise levels of paranoia.
Being Tall Can Have its Downsides
Tall stature is not advantageous over short stature in every aspect. For instance, a Swedish study of five million people found that height and cancer risk might be linked. In this study, taller women were associated with a 20% greater risk of developing breast cancer, while taller men and women had an increased risk of skin cancer by 30%. Scientists trace these findings back to the fact that taller individuals possess more growth factors. Because of their size, they have more cells in their body, which increases the risk that one of them could turn cancerous.
As we have seen so far, people mainly want to be taller due to external benefits in their lives such as an improved social position or a higher-perceived attraction level. Are you worried about your short height? Don’t think about it yet. In future postings, we will discuss ways to increase your height
- Life at the top: The benefits of height (Angus Deaton, Raksha Arora)
- Height at age 18 years is a strong predictor of attained education later in life: cohort study of over 950,000 Swedish men. (Magnusson PK, Rasmussen F, Gyllensten UB)
- The effect of physical height on workplace success and income: preliminary test of a theoretical model (Judge TA, Cable DM)
- Tall claims? Sense and nonsense about the importance of height of US presidents (Gert Stulp, Abraham P.Buunk, Simon Verhulst, Thomas V.Pollet)
- Trading height for education in the marriage market (Ponzo M, Scoppa V)
- Strong inverse association between height and suicide in a large cohort of Swedish men: evidence of early life origins of suicidal behavior? (Magnusson PK, Gunnell D, Tynelius P, Davey Smith G, Rasmussen F)
- Height perception and paranoia, The Guardian
- Study supports cancer link with height, BBC