CivicScience | Walk Tall: How Perception of Height Can Change Everything

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Walk Tall: How Perception of Height Can Change Everything

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The Gist: People’s perception of height puts them head and shoulders above the general population.


While height’s a concrete fact, the way we feel about our height can be an indicator of many things. On a bad day, you might feel smaller than most. After that big promotion, it feels like you’re looking over everyone’s heads you’re so tall.

What’s interesting to consider with this question is that we’re not asking for exact height or measurement, we asked respondents to consider themselves in regards to the average population of their age and gender. While the question is certainly based in some way on a person’s height, there’s the added wrinkle of how a respondent might see him or herself in comparison to others.

So, does height, whether perceived or real, give you a leg up on life?

For starters, if you think you’re taller than average, you also think you’re more attractive than average.

People who identify as shorter than their age and gender are more likely to consider themselves less physically attractive than average.

On the other hand, the taller you think you are, the less likely you are to consider yourself overweight.

Taller people think they’re more attractive overall than most, but what about something more concrete, like salary?

Taller people are more likely to earn $150k+. Once again, height seems to tie into salary–the taller you are, the more likely you’ll be paid more.

Salary might be explained by this–people who identify as taller are more likely to have obtained a graduate or professional degree.

People who think they’re taller than average are also more likely to be men. Women are more likely to consider themselves shorter than average, even for their age and gender.

So you might have the looks and the cash, but being tall can’t all be fun and games, can it?

Tall people are more likely to feel stressed out all the time. Maybe it’s because they can see everything going on. It’s more likely be job stress, considering income level brings more responsibility.

So what’s the bottom line here, do we have a height crisis on our hands? A height-wage gap? What’s more likely is the tie between a positive self-image and the above. In a society where height is valued, people who believe themselves to be taller than the average, of course, would consider themselves more attractive. Similar is salary. Height and perceived attractiveness lead to higher self-esteem, and likely a better performance on the job.

We’re, of course, not suggesting that height and salary have any association beyond perhaps, a strong sense of self-esteem.

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