|Tall people have a larger rate of getting into higher education, even taking into account their actual cognitive abilities/ Photo By HD92 via Shutterstock|
When we meet a person, the first things that we often notice about them make up our initial impressions. It’s no surprise then that taller people will tend to make big impressions. In fact, tall people seem to dominate in their respective fields.
But is there any truth to this and how is it backed by science?
The Height Advantage
The world we live in seems to be one that generally favors taller people, especially in regard to the daily advantages. Studies can show what some of these advantages are. According to Psychology Today, tall people have a larger rate of getting into higher education, even taking into account their actual cognitive abilities. It was also found that a man on average made $166,000 more in his 30-year career if he was 6 feet tall compared to those who were shorter. There’s also the apparent boost in attractiveness, as taller members of both sexes tend to date more than their shorter peers. On the whole, taller people were viewed as being more intelligent, dominant, and healthy.
A Better View
Back in the days of our ancestors, a taller height would have given hunters many advantages. If they were looking across a desert or a plain, they would have been able to spot danger from farther away. It was found by a study that taller persons have an improved ability to judge distances, even in dark environments. After testing two dozen participants who were placed into groups according to their height, they found that taller members could more accurately gauge the distance of a ping pong ball more than three meters away in a dark room compared to the shorter participants. Even when the setting was moved to a well-lit outdoor field, and when shorter individuals were allowed to stand and the taller ones told to sit down during their observations, taller people still manage to guess with better accuracy.
According to ScienceMag.org, the human brain is able to make guesses on distance using various clues, such as how well you can see the texture of the object or its relative size compared to other things around it. However, darkness can obscure many of these factors, which is where the height advantage comes in. Those who have eyes at a higher level can judge the distance of two things more easily based on the angle, which created a better map for calculating distance.
|Tall people can throw, reach, and catch things higher and farther/ Photo By XiXinXing via Shutterstock|
Physical Prowess and Lifespan
In terms of physical capabilities, BBC states that taller people can cover more ground as they have longer legs and can reach further distances as they need not expend as much energy. They can also throw, reach, and catch things higher and farther. This can easily be seen in many of today's sports. However, shorter people can also be quicker and nimbler, as their nerve impulses have less time to conduct through the body. They also often have greater flexibility, so shorter people can be seen excelling in activities like diving and gymnastics.
In terms of lifespan, however, it seems that being taller is not an advantage. The average male height of the population of Villagrande Strisaili in Sardinia is only about 5 feet and 3 inches, but they have the largest number of centenarians in the entirety of Europe. While in general, healthier children tend to grow up taller, those who are tall end up having more cells that need regenerating and require more energy to keep themselves going. Thus, it seems that there is a greater build-up of the by-products of biological processes and can even increase the rate of mutations that may result in cancer.
In terms of psychological benefits, there was also found to be at least a modest effect of height on improving self-esteem and increasing overall happiness. Increased height also seems to reduce the likelihood of suicide. This may all tie in with society’s subconscious association with height and power. Concepts like “the high and mighty” and “looking up to our leaders” have shaped thinking in such a way that it was even found that most U.S. candidates to government positions who were taller tended to have the popular vote, and if they were running for president, they were more likely to get elected. While shorter people can also have big personalities, taller individuals often make “bigger” impressions.
Being short can actually cause more feelings of insecurity, paranoia and self-doubt.
Participants in the study were placed in a virtual reality environment where they experienced two scenarios: one where they were their actual height, and the other where they were a foot shorter. There was a dramatic increase in people’s feelings of paranoia and vulnerability when they were at a lowered perspective.
In general, taller people do have the upper hand in many aspects of life although there are some aspects where they get the short end of the stick. Despite this, being tall or short should not make you feel more or less superior, and it is up to a person’s demeanor to allow them to conquer their life’s obstacles.