Tall order for short folks
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

IS it the weather, or are tall people really becoming more annoying by the day? With pro hockey and basketball playoffs already under way, here comes a new study of the effects of height on self-confidence, careers and income. The news is not good for average folks or below. Timothy Judge of the University of Florida and Daniel Cable of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studied several different studies on height; the results will appear in June's Journal of Applied Psychology. It may not surprise you that tall people get more of everything: notice, positive evaluations, money, promotions, attention from the opposite sex. The work of talls was subjectively evaluated better than average. An extra six inches' height produces another $4,734 in annual income regardless of gender. Add that up over a career and that's a lot of money to resent from down here. This tall tale was especially evident in management and sales but also in sitting professions such as clerks, accountants and engineers. Is this fair? From the perspective of, say, 5-feet-8, these findings aren't earth-shaking, just incredibly irritating. What fate and short genes can do is amazing. Makes you want to jump up and punch someone. This helps explain the Rocky Factor, America's enduring attraction to underdogs -- small people who somehow connive to succeed in an XL world. Los Angeles Times Editorial Watch any of those wolf or gorilla documentaries and the bigger fellows still pretty much get first gnawing rights and sit where they choose. Back before TV, the taller, fur-clad humanoids might have hit their heads on the cave entrance, but they got deference from shorter tribesmen. Since television, Americans also noticeably prefer tall presidents, though postelection the affection can dwindle, as Lyndon Johnson learned.

Despite humanity's increasing intelligence the last few millenniums and all the trappings and laudings of our well-nourished, allegedly enlightened modernity, might we still be subconsciously adhering to cave-era thinking? Looking up in awe when just looking up would suffice?

The tall study appears very impressive. So naturally we asked the researchers' height. Judge, it seems, is 6 feet. Cable is fully 6-feet-2. Should have known.

Los Angeles Times
Editorial