Powerful People Are Shorter Than They Think [Study]

Powerful short people
Is your boss shorter than he thinks he is?

You often hear about “the little people,” even when actual height is not discussed. Often times, it is people who converse with upcoming celebrities, telling them not to forget “the little people.” A research study from the authors of a new paper published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, found that there is some psychological truth to these kinds of statements. Though non-celebrities are often normal heights, they may actually feel smaller then what they are when compared to a celebrity.

The study suggests that people who feel powerful overestimate their size. Alternatively, people who feel weak, usually in a work setting, tend to feel physically smaller than what they actually are.

One of the paper’s co-writers, Jack A. Goncalo of Cornell University, stated that there is physical experience that goes along with the study. He also went on to state that people who feel less powerful may actually see objects and other people larger than what they actually are. Alternatively, people who feel powerful may see things smaller than what they are.

Of course, there is plenty of prior research that proves taller people generally make more money, are more likely to be promoted, and are viewed as more attractive, but this paper’s research proves the reverse to be true, that power makes people feel tall.

One experiment had people come into the lab in pairs. Their height measurements were taken, and then they were given a leadership aptitude test. They were told that, based on their feedback, they would either be assigned to play the role of a manager or employee. The feedback the participants received was fake, and then they were assigned their roles. After they received their roles, they were asked to fill out a personal questionnaire, answering questions that involved their height, eye color, and other physical attributes.

The participants who were given roles of manager, having complete power over crucial decision, stated that they were taller than the actual measurement. Alternatively, people who were given the role of employee answered that their height was either the same or less than the taken measurement.

This could explain the psychology of people who wear high-heels to feel powerful or bosses who work in the top-floor office.

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