Several studies have suggested that there is a relationship between a person’s height and… the role he or she plays in a romantic relationship. But how can the person’s height affect an emotional state of his or her mind? A recent survey by the University of Oxford studied how short people perceive the world around them. With the help of avatars, the researchers put the participants to a virtual experience, during which they were in metro along with other people… being a few inches shorter than their actual height.
The volunteers were able to move and interact with other virtual passengers, for example by exchanging glances. Each virtual journey lasted about six minutes, while the participants were ‘shorten’ by 25 centimeters. According to clinical psychologist and study leader Dr Daniel Freeman, the participants reported that in this way they felt most vulnerable, developed negative feelings about themselves and had a greater sense of… insanity. “There was no reason for anyone to feel a lack of confidence. Yet, when the participants saw the world around them … from a lower height, they believed that people were more hostile towards them or they were trying to isolate them,” said the professor, according to a report in National Geographic.
This does not mean that most short people always feel lack of confidence or are more paranoid, added Dr Freeman. However, our findings reinforce the common perception of a person’s height. “The height seems to affect the feeling of social status and being tall is associated with being socially desirable,” he continued. “The height makes you feel more confident in social interactions. All of us have noticed that when we do not feel very good about ourselves or in general, we tend to slouch, while when we feel more confident, we stretch our body and feel taller,” explained the professor.
“Maybe it is not that strange, considering how young children feel towards adults, as they have to look up to them,” said clinical psychologist Susan Heitler. It is that “unequal gaze” that connects the greater height to the highest power and influence. “It’s not a perfect correlation,” she adds, “However , experts have noticed that patients with depression, when being asked to close their eyes and talk about what they see, tend to describe themselves as much smaller compared with other figures in their lives.”
According to Timothy Judge of the University of Notre Dame, who has studied the effect of height on professional earnings, we live in a society that places great emphasis on outward appearance. “But as our society relies on technology more and more, there are reasons to believe that these perceptions and judgments based on appearance will begin to disappear. Moreover, if people meet only through their computers … probably the height will cease to be so important criterion.”