November 28, 2006

Are tall people better because they are tall...

... or tall because they are better? Let me rephrase that: Is the relative success of taller people the result of the favoritism they receive from people who admire tallness, or is it that the good nutrition that produced tallness also produced smartness?

33 comments:

David said...

Being 'tall' has usually been beneficial for me. At 6'5", 220 lbs., I tend to be noticed when I enter a room. It is difficult to remain anonymous when one towers over most others.

Height does come in handy occasionally as I am asked to retrieve items from the top shelves at various places. At times I believe this is just a ploy to check out my 'backside' as I stretch up to full length to retrieve the required item. LOL!

Everyone in my family is over 6' tall so one would assume genetics played a key role. Being tall raises physical expectations from others where presence and gravitas carry value.

Advice to others would include the dictum to always stand up straight as posture is, perhaps, more important than height. Slouching adds the appearance of more weight and detracts from one's presentation.

Early nutrition certainly plays a role in child development. Lack thereof can stunt growth. Genes, good or not-so-good, determine your physical make-up. How you put your best physical self forward is up to the individual!

MaoBi said...

You may also want to read the book entitled Blink by Malcolm Gladwell which discusses this phenomena. ISBN 0316010669.

Rob said...

In men at least, tall and handsome garners automatic respect and deference, if not assumptions of superiority. This instills confidence in the recipient, which is the most important factor in any definition of success.

rhodeymark1 said...

Obviously this no longer applies to John Kerry...

tiggeril said...

I'm 4'10", which is hell during the holiday season since it's all too easy to get trampled on the sidewalks.

Eli Blake said...

I wonder, then, why you never hear anything about Manute Bol anymore.

I really think that height has more to do with genes than any other factor. And along these lines, might it be that tall people get ahead because they started out ahead, because their parents benefitted from a 'tall' bias, and so are the beneficiaries of perhaps many generations of accumulated 'tallness' bias.

Dale B said...

I'm 6'3". I was 6'4" but I'm apparently shrinking as I get older. I can't say if I'm more successful or not because of my height, or anything else for that matter.

It took me longer than it should have to realize this, but my size does intimidate people. I don't want to intimidate anyone but sometimes it happens just because I'm there.

The intimidation thing was useful when I was working Shore Patrol (Navy Military Police) in downtown San Diego, one of the worst jobs I ever had. In that situation, being able to intimidate people is a very good thing. It stops them from wanting fight with you. That job is where I discovered "short guy syndrome." The smaller the guy, the more aggressive they were and the more likely they wanted to fight. This was not good. OTOH, The smaller they were the less likely they could actually hurt me, at least when they only came one or two at a time.

I've noticed that "short guy syndrome" is still true in normal day to day activities. The shorter the guy the more aggressive they are. Not necessarily physically aggressive, but at least, on the pushy side. In my world of project management and engineering, these attributes are good for your career, if you're usually right. Being tall may be an advantage but being good is better. Results are what matter.

When I was a kid, the bullies never picked on me. They should have as I was the perfect geeky target. I never thought about it at the time but I suspect my size had a lot to do with them leaving me alone.

As a tall person, others ask me to reach to high places for them. That may be an advantage. It depends on who's asking and if I drop the thing I'm supposed to get.

Most things don't fit me very well. Things like cars, motorcycles, small sailboats, airplane seats, and such are generally too small for me and I sort of have to fold myself up a bit to fit. It least I'm pretty flexible as a result.

I also wack my head on things a lot. This may have as much to do with being a klutz as with being tall.

If I had a choice, I'd rather be shorter, maybe 6'.

Dave said...

There are a lot of stupid tall people and a lot of smart short people.

Jesse Ventura is tall and stupid. Warren Buffett is short and smart.

I don't think either Shaquille O'Neal or Verne Troyer are great intellects.

Etc.

I'd have to see more data on any correlation between height and intelligence. There are too many easy examples that disprove the alleged correlation.

I do, however, think Dale is on to something when he says that short guys are aggressive. All the short salesmen, stock traders I have known have been very aggressive. We used to call them "the flies" in a previous job I had because they buzzed around everywhere. Me, I'm slightly above average in height, at 5'10" and therefore am rather laid back.

Susan said...

Each generation of Americans is getting taller. But does anyone think they're also getting smarter?

Mortimer Brezny said...

The answer is obvious.

Tall people eat their smaller siblings.

Or push them behind bookcases. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6185854.stm

wv: wtflasep

Lasep: I crashed your car.
Me: WTF, Lasep.

Truly said...

Being a tall girl has a distinct downside. I think I'm entitled to date guys 6' tall or taller (I'm 5' 11"). Why can't the short girls find someone their own size?

Bruce Hayden said...

Until I see a study that shows that tall people are smarter than shorter ones (given equivalent nuitrition - so don't mention the Bushmen or the Aboriginies), I will continue to believe that being tall is advantageous because it gets one noticed and the intimidation aspect.

I am reminded of one 6'9" software consultant whom I worked with in the later 1980s. He was very bright and one of the TCP/IP architects. But he had less experience than we did in debugging protocol designs. So, he would usually win arguments based on his smarts, but when that failed, he would just lean over you until you backed down - if you were a guy. It is instinctive behavior for guys to do so. Didn't work though with women - as they are used to guys being bigger than they are.

My experience is that really big guys tend to dominate whatever situation they are in, due almost entirely to their size. This can be 6'4" and 250, or 6'9" with a similar weight. But the guy has to carry himself erect for this to work - one of my best friends in HS was 6'5" and slouched to about 6'2" and didn't dominate, whereas his brother an inch taller who stood up straight did.

If there is a genetic component here, it would most likely be because the bigger the guy, the better his breeding potential. My experience is that the bigger the guy, the more sex they have over their lifetimes with more women. Again though, this appears to be a somewhat hardwired response in women (maybe not for east-Asian women who seem to give more preference to education, success, and brains).

hdhouse said...

this of course explains the NBA.

Maxine Weiss said...

Each generation of Americans is not getting taller.

SCIENTIFIC THEORY: With all the darkie illegal aliens, and Mestizos, inbreeding with Whites....it's producing a darker, shorter, stouter populace.

CRISIS: High school and college football teams have fewer candidates in the potential player pool to pick from, because with each class, potential players are becoming shorter and shorter.

Basketball too. Blacks are tall, but once they mate with Mestizo illegals.....it dilutes it.

Height is not always a dominant trait.

The real problem is the dating pool. The guy must be taller than the gal, but the pool of tall men, suitable for dating, has become very slim.

A woman won't date a man who's shorter than her.

Peace, Maxine

Michael said...

I'm a 6'9" law librarian which makes me inarguably better... at shelving books on the top shelves.

I think, generally speaking, you are forced to be slightly more personable as a Very Tall Guy because of the almost daily questions regarding exact height and basketball prowess. And you learn patience.

Dave said...

6'9"???

Wow, how's the weather up there?

Maxine Weiss said...

Automatic, inbred authority and dominance over other lesser endowed individuals.

Plus, a statuesque and regal countenance.

-versus-

Danny DeVito, little man's syndrome. Napoloen Bonaparte (sp?) was only 4'9 ???

Shorter men have huge egos to overcompensate.

These are scientific facts which are irrefutable.

Love, Maxine

Mortimer Brezny said...

I can't tell is Maxine is kidding or just ifqaih.

wv: ifqaih

Bissage said...

Mort: That's to keep you on your toes.

You have Maxine to thank for those extra three inches.

Ha!

P. Froward said...

Mortimer Brezny - You?! Never! Did the Kenosha Kid...?

Revenant said...

I'd have to see more data on any correlation between height and intelligence. There are too many easy examples that disprove the alleged correlation.

You appear to have fallen victim to the common misconception that "X is correlated with Y" means "those with more X always have more Y". That is not the case.

The statement "height is correlated with intelligence" just means that the average tall person is smarter than the average short person. Given that both height and intelligence are themselves positively correlated with childhood nutrition, it is hardly surprising that height and intelligence would also be correlated. That there are smart short people and dumb tall people isn't really relevant.

Kirby Olson said...

The question of standards should mean that height is irrelevant but:

In a recent article in the Journal of Applied Psychology (June 2004, 428-441), University of Florida management professor Timothy Judge published an article entitled, “The Effect of Physical Height on Workplace Success and Income: Preliminary Test of a Theoretical Model.” These findings have since been summarized in mainstream media journals such as USA Today and Psychology Today, as well as Medical News Today.

Judge argues that salary climbs irrespective of any other perceived merit and even takes in the basketball objection (where height is truly linked to excellence in that one area).

But there are "bigger" issues at stake here than tallness or smallness, fatness or svelteness. The notion that all standards have gone out the window with the window doesn't mean that we shouldn't still all be interested in fairness.

Even my kids who are 1 and 3 are very interested in issues of fairness.

Give one a cookie and not the other and the one without cookie will cry out to God almighty.

Fairness does matter. Isn't it the basis of all law?

Dave said...

"Judge argues that salary climbs irrespective of any other perceived merit and even takes in the basketball objection (where height is truly linked to excellence in that one area)."

Right. Because Shawn Bradley was such an amazing basketball player.

Rusty said...

Give a woman 2 choices

1) a tall handsome jerk
2) a short gentlemen


70 - 80% will take the tall jerk.

(If you think this is sexist be kind I have issues because I am short.)

I fortunately, found a smart woman who likes gentlemen.

Shanna said...

70 - 80% will take the tall jerk.

Ok. I tried to explain this to some former coworkers one time but I don't think it took. The tall, handsome guy may act like a jerk around other guys, but to us, he doesn't act like a jerk. He acts polite and holds the door open and says nice things...until way down the road he reveals himself as a jerk. And at this point, you are already invested in the relationship and your first impression of him was so nice that you keep expecting that guy to come back.

If he acted like a jerk right up front this would be much easier.

Plus men are terribly shallow, so I don't know where most of them get off complaining about this.

Maxine Weiss said...

Take "handsome" out of the equation.

We're not talking about "handsome".

We are talking about height = protection.

And, women usually want protection, even in the animal kingdom. This goes back to anthropogy.

(Is there no end to my specialties?)

Protection comes in many forms.

Sometimes it's height. Sometimes it's money.

1) A tall wealthy jerk
2) A short poor gentlman

Guess which one gets picked.

Plus, the tall and the wealth blunt the jerkdom.

Shortness magnifies the least bit of flaws.

Of course if this:

1) Tall working class gentlman
2) Short wealthy Danny DeVito

Decisions, decisons....

Peace, Maxine

Eli Blake said...

Wow.

A lot of biases come out all over the place.

maybe not for east-Asian women who seem to give more preference to education, success, and brains

I think you are seeing an Asian cultural bias favoring hard work and success. But I think you'll find that many women of any background would, given a choice between 'rich' and 'tall,' choose 'rich.'

Women won't date men who are shorter than them.

Wrong. I'm 6'0". When I was single, I dated (among others) three women who were 6'2", 6'1" and 6'0". I found tall women at the time to be attractive, so I went out with all three of the above because I took the time to meet them and later asked them for a date. Flowers work just as well with a tall woman as a short one. True, I no longer date and am now married to a woman who is 5'3", but I don't buy the idea that tall women won't date a guy who is shorter than them because they dated me.

Rusty and Shanna:

Most guys will behave at their best when trying to meet a girl (Shanna is right about that) but if you get to the second date and he's still pretending to be something he's not, you should be able to figure it out by then.

I like the way my great-great grandmother (then a charming and beautiful young maiden) made her decision.

It was a cold night in the middle of winter, and she had two suitors-- my great-great grandfather and another gentleman. They both came over that night to press their suit, to ask her to marry her. All three of them knew why they were both there, so they sat around and made small talk while each guy waited for the other one to leave, or at least leave the room for a moment. Well, the fire got low, and my great-great grandmother asked, 'Who will go out to the woodshed and get me some wood to put on the fire?' The two guys looked at each other for an instant but my great-great grandfather jumped up, put on his coat and went out to get the wood. When he came back in the room, he saw the other fellow brushing the dust off of his knees. He quickly put on his coat and hat, and left hurriedly. Then my great-great grandfather pressed his suit, and she said yes. And no, I don't know which of the men was taller, nor does it matter.

Shanna said...

I like that story, Eli.

LoafingOaf said...

Dale B:

When I was a kid, the bullies never picked on me. They should have as I was the perfect geeky target. I never thought about it at the time but I suspect my size had a lot to do with them leaving me alone.

Totally. I shot up very tall, very fast from the the earliest years in school, and no one ever tried to bully me around. A huge plus for males. Even the most drunk jerk at a bar who's looking for fights over the slightest "disses" steers clear, which always gives me a chuckle. Some of us tall guys never had to learn how to fight and might not be so tough, but fine by me that people don't know this!

On the downside, I was a shy little boy up through high school and tallness was a factor in that. When you feel like Big Bird, all awkward and standing out too much, with everyone asking, "How's the weather up there?". lol

Now the only downside is, as you say, not fitting into things. Envying those who look comfy in their seats on buses, trains, planes, wherever.

If I had a choice, I'd rather be shorter, maybe 6'.

Yeah, I'm 6'4" and wish I'd stopped growing at 6'. Even little things like needing extra long ties can be a hassle (A salesman at Brooks Brothers told me he'd never HEARD OF extra long ties!). I use that as an excuse to over-spend on ties. It's not my fault Nordstrom's tiny selection of extra-longs happen to be from the fanciest designers.

Kemper said...

Tall is good, but the Napoleon complex does get short guys motivated. That being said, I culled out girls under 5'10". Sorry, genetics is real, hard to have tall kids with a short wife. Both my sons are over 6'3".

Mortimer Brezny said...

Hmm, I never want to be in a position to have to thank a woman for the extra three inches. That just sounds quefnn.

wv: quefnn

Christy said...

I get that my generation is taller because of better nutrition. But why are kids today growing taller? Is nutrition that much better today than 25 years ago? My brother was taller than my dad, his son is taller still. My 3 year old great-nephew is projected to be almost 7' tall. Have we plateaued yet?

Sean E said...

"Well, the fire got low, and my great-great grandmother asked, 'Who will go out to the woodshed and get me some wood to put on the fire?' The two guys looked at each other for an instant but my great-great grandfather jumped up, put on his coat and went out to get the wood."

Some things never change. Women just aren't interested in men who can't get wood.