Nov 1, 2014

The Short Side: A Summary of Height Related Issues

Data is information that may or may not be organized.  Knowledge is a collection of data that focuses on a specific area.  You can use this knowledge in an intelligent or ignorant way.  When I think of knowledge I think of the idea of warfare.  If you are going into combat then it is crucial for you to know as much about the enemy, terrain, your own capabilities etc.  If you are ignorant then the enemy is going to crush you, but if you are well prepared then you can deal with difficult situations.  Life is not that different, and if you possess knowledge then you are far more likely to succeed.  This page focuses on the issue of human height and how such has an effect on what you can and cannot achieve.  For the most part it will be composed in a list of statements with links to references--although some may be personal observations and in some cases presumptions (I will indicate which I am using).  It is important for you to double check all statements to make sure that what I'm saying is correct.

First, I will acknowledge that I am working under a limited perspective.  Likewise, you are working under your own limited perspective.  This perspective allows us to see the world in a certain way, but it can also prevent us from seeing as someone else sees.  It's a problem because if you cannot see as others see then you are less likely to have empathy for something that someone else regards as having value.  Like Aristotle says, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."  Please keep an open mind as you go through this information.

Before I continue, and this may be a big time saver, the entirety of the statements that I will post can be  traced back to Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species."  As a summary, and in my own words, it goes a lot like this:
  1. We are born into an environment.
  2. We may or may not possess traits that are suited, or not suited, to that environment.
  3. If we have traits, or we develop certain traits during our lifetime, that are suited for the environment then we are more likely to succeed in that environment.  Likewise, if we do not have such traits then we are less likely to succeed in that environment.
In Darwin's natural selection, success may mean passing on our genes to the next generation, but I like to think about it as overall life quality.  Because we are human we can, by having knowledge, change some of our traits, or we can change to a more suitable environment.  Now, with that said I can begin the big summary.

  • Definitions
    • Heightism is the "prejudice or discrimination against individuals based on height." [1]  Usually this discrimination is against "short" men, but there are areas in which tall people are also discriminated against. [observation]
    • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average US male height is 69.3 inches (which is 5 foot 9.3 inches, or about 176 cm), and women are 63.8 inches (which is 5 foot 3.8 inches, or about 162 cm).  The mean height is approximately 69 inches for males, and 64 inches for women. [1, 2, 3]  Of course, there are many different average human heights on each country [1, 2]
    • Short simply means a height that is less than the average in that society.  Likewise, tall can be defined as a height that is greater than the average.
    • wiki list of shortest people, wiki list of tallest people
  • Insightful Media
  • Human Development
    • Baby height and weight is indicative of health conditions.  The authorities in this regard are the World Health Organization [1], and CDC [2], easier to understand data can be found at sites like babycenter.com [3].  Generally a small/short baby is not associated with healthy attributes [presumption].
    • There are simplified chart predictions in which one can estimate a child's future adult height. [1, 2]
    • Children who are seen as weak are more likely to be targeted by bullies, and bullies are more likely those who can enforce their will unto others. [1]  In kids, both bullies and bullied can develop physical and mental issues [2].  According to BMj 2000;320:612, both boys and girls of short stature are more likely to be bullied than those who are taller, and also face more social isolation, some though (1 in 4 of the short-bullied) also do some bullying. [3]
    • If children, who may be short, become isolated then they are more likely to not partake in social events--such as team sports and clubs [logic].  A lack of participation can further decrease the development of physical talent. [logic]  Also, in sports in which stature is important the shorter children are more likely to be selected last [observation] --which is indicative of "undesirability" by peers--furthermore this reinforces correlation of short as a negative attribute.  Thus, the social and talent development of a child who is short is not at the same pace as taller children. [presumption]
    • Study titled, "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height" is a study that deals with the importance of height over time--including wages, resources, participation in high school sports and clubs, monetary benefits, and medical treatments. [1]
    • The association of short as negative and tall as positive can be shown explicitly, but there are implicit preferences for taller heights.  Dr. Tony Greenwald, from University of Washington, and Dr. Mahzarin Banaji, from the University of Hardvard, created the Implicit Association Test (IAT).  Such has been used in studies analyzing prejudice regarding race, gender-roles, and height.  In Howard Goldberg's film "S&M Short and Male," Dr. Banaji states, "If in my experience the idea of a tall person has come to be routinely associated with good, with competent, with powerful, with rich, then tall and good become one, and short and bad become one.  So what we are looking at it is, independent of what I may say to you, I may say 'I have no bias towards people based on their height,' and yet in my mind has learned that association between tall and good, and short and bad, the IAT it has a way of discovering the strength of that association." [1]
    • Consequences of bullying translate into adulthood.  Some effects include: difficulty maintaining jobs, reduced quality of social relationships, increased chance of smoking, and developing illness. [1]
    • Swedish study found that a two inch increase in height reduces the likelihood of suicide by 9%, study titled "Strong Inverse Association Between Height and Suicide in a Large Cohort of Swedish Men"  [1]
    • National Georgraphic published an article titled, "Short People Got ... Lots of Reasons to Legitimately Feel Paranoid."  In the article, "Participants reported that during the ride in which they were made to feel shorter, they felt more vulnerable, more negative about themselves, and had a greater sense of paranoia."  [1]
    • Short men also discriminate against other short men. [1]
    • Shorter men tend to live longer than tall men. [1]
    • People tend to self-report weight more accurately than they do their height. [1]
    • (I might also update this post with intelligence potential based on brain size--which can be tied to body size--which then can be tied to height)
  • Income and Leadership
    • Height can increase wages from one to two percent per hourly earnings in men and women, based on "Making Sense of the Labor Market Height Premium: Evidence from the British Household Panel Survey." [1]  The same study mentions that height is not the sole connection for earnings, but perhaps the connection to improved earlier life and education.
    • Study titled, "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height" is a study that deals with the importance of height over time--including wages, resources, participation in high school sports and clubs, monetary benefits, and medical treatments. [1]
    • According to "The Effects of Physical Height on Workplace Success and Income: Preliminary Test of a Theoretical Model," on average, a difference of height of 7 inches in height may equate to $5,525 more income per year, estimate of $789 per inch per year. [1, 2]
    • In Fortune 500's list of top US companies over 58% of CEOs have a height of six foot or taller.  [1]
    • According to Forbes, "While women are judged more critically by their weight, men are more likely to be sized up by their height.  Of those surveyed, 16% said it's important for men to be tall, compared to just 6% for women.  According to leadership book Management by Chuck Williams, although only 14.5% of American men are six feet tall, 58% of male CEOs running the 500 largest U.S. companies stand six feet or taller--four times the average.  Real estate executive Tim Melville-Ross told the CTI researchers that being 6'^' has been a 'huge advantage' in his career."  [1]
    • The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) gives the following guidance under the "Prohibited Practices" section regarding height and weight requirements, "Height and weight requirement tend to disproportionately limit the employment opportunities of some protected groups and unless the employer can demonstrate how the need is related to the job, it may be viewed as illegal under federal law. A number of states and localities have laws specifically prohibiting discrimination on the basis of height and weight unless based on actual job requirements.  Therefore, unless job-related, inquiries about height and weight should be avoided." [1]
    • If height is a desirable trait then the collective will choose taller leaders in public office.  In the US, the tallest US president was Abraham Lincoln, at six foot four inches, the shortest was James Madison, at five feet four inches. [1]  Average US president height is five foot 10 inches, but the trend over the past few decades is towards tall individuals. [1]  Furthermore, out of the last 13 elections the taller candidate has won 10 times [1]
    • The way your face is shaped gives observers a perceived height assumption, and thus has an effect on leadership selection. [1]
    • There is an overwhelming body of evidence in the Romantic Relationships section to suggest that women see tall men as attractive.  Then given that this is a large voter group, it is likely that short men are unlikely to hold, on average, high positions in public office.  A US president must be on the tall side, but what does this mean for women who on average are shorter?  This can also be a factor in discrepancy of wage gaps among genders--women are generally shorter than males, so their likelihood of becoming a leader is reduced based on physical limitations and the implicit associations that others have about short women.
    • Someone who is "short" and in power is often connected to a "Napoleon complex," which is the idea that because of the lack of height they are aggressive.  Apparently even Sir Winston Churchill was likely have had "short man syndrome." [1]
    • It may be easier to diminish/tarnish the reputation of leaders by making fun whether explicitly or implicitly by connecting behaviors to height.  For example, the ad-filled Global Post has an article titled, "He's short, but is he crazy? A brief psychoanalysis of Vladimir Putin." [1]
    • Images of presidents/world leaders and height: 1, 2, 3, 4.
    • Height discrimination as described in "Height Discrimination In Employment" by Isaac B. Rosenberg, is an article with emphasis in employment and law in the State of Utah. [1]
    • We can determine that in most sports the size factor is also important--think of how many UFC fights you have seen that are Featherweight or lower in weight class, and then think of how more likely you are of watching the higher weight classes.  There is also inequality of income in sports.  Check the Strengths Finder 2.0 info below for other sports related notes.
    • The term leader is often romanticized, but the best definition I have heard is that a leader is "someone who tells people what to do and they do it."  In my experience, while in the United States Marine Corps, taller leaders did not have to raise their voice as often in order for a task to get done.  After climbing up the ranks a bit, I realized that for a short individual to establish authority there has to be demonstration that the individual is more competent than the subordinates.  For example, a short leader may take his troops out for a long run and tire them--but he himself is in peak performance so he is seen as competent.  Furthermore, having great knowledge in XYZ allows the short leader to be a teacher to less knowledgeable subordinates.  Physical aggression will definitely establish authority,  but as a short leader cannot always rely on that, he has to be more ingenious.  After authority has been established in the minds of the subordinates the leader can stop being so aggressive, and only use aggressiveness when it's needed. [observation]
  • Media Portrayal
    • Perhaps an extreme comment, but Sameer Yerawadekar, in a peer-reviewed article published on The Massachussetts Review, states, "The all-pervading Western media portrays short men as a lesser creature, a fast-taking, furtive, shifty-eyed, penny-pincher, selfishly guarding his meager treasures while scrapping for insignificant quanta of money, power and respect. This stereotypical Short Man is petty, cruel, ignorable, and ugly. He is properly classified as a subspecies of man, one who has fallen so far below the standards of Western Civilization that his taxonomic rank leaves him on par with the higher order of rodents" - This appeared in "The Manifesto of the Short Man." [1]
    • I strongly encourage people to observe the media messages that reinforce height beliefs.  Many times you are likely to encounter that a short male is portrayed as "an object to be made fun of," as a nerd/scientist that wants to take over the world, and so on.  Usually a "hero" is someone who is tall, not short.  There is often the question "is he tall?" in many romantic movies/shows.
  • Social Media and the Internets
    • (there are plenty of these, but I can't list them all--you'll find them)
    • Imgur: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
    • Twitter: 12.
    • YouTube: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
    • Other: 1, 2, 3, 4.
  • Romantic Relationships
    • In online dating, according to OKCupid, both men and women are likely to lie about their height, usually by about two inches.  Men who are on the tall side get far more messages than short men.  In the case of women, shorter women are more likely to receive messages than tall women. [1]   We can state that tall men and short women are seen as attractive, and on the other end short men and tall women are seen as not attractive.
    • Once I read a profile with a formula that the woman required of the male.  The formula is "woman height + her heels < male height."
    • Generally dating sites tend to offer advice for their customers, this includes short men.  Match.com has writings on "Dating when you're a short guy." [1]  I would read this for the insights, but also note that subscription based sites like to keep you in for as long as possible to make money--it may be very bad advice [opinion/economics/facts/logic]
    • If you are a male of height five foot nine inches, or lower, you have a 1.2 percent possibility of being contacted by a NY woman in online dating. [1]
    • On a 20/20 Report women strongly preferred, as a first impression, a lower income, lower status, less educated, but tall male over someone who is "successful" but short. [1]
    • According to CDC, in the period of 1960s to 2002 there has been an increase in mean height in both males and females by about an inch. [1].  This indicates that in the US natural/sexual selection favors height.  A projection of selection patterns would indicate that over time males will become taller and women may become shorter.  [presumption]
    • Women tend to be attracted to deeper voices, and men tend to be attracted to higher voices. [1]  A deep voice is not necessarily due to height, but to overall size (which includes weight). [1]  Listeners can presume height based on just the pitch of a speakers' voice. [1, 2]  However, this attraction to voice tends to be associated with short term attraction (due to an association with likelihood of cheating). [1].  Deeper voices are usually connected with leadership. [1]  Also, voters tend to cast their ballots for deeper voiced males. [1]  Also, women tend to find deeper voices to be more memorable. [1]
    • Given the CDC ratio of male height to female height, 69/64, then we can determine the "appropriate" height of a partner.  For example, in the case of a male who is 5 foot 4 inches in height (64 inches) the appropriate female partner's height would be 59.3623 inches (which is about 4 feet and 11 inches).  The formula is 69/64 = (male height) / (female height), input what your male/female height is and solve for the other variable.  This though is quite likely to be nothing more than nonsense.
    • According to article in DailyMail, taller men have more children than short men. [1]
    • According to article in DailyMail, in 92.5% of British couples the husband is the taller one, in 4% of the cases the women were taller, and it was quite rate to find couples of equal height. [1]
    • According to article in BBC, shorter/smaller men are less likely to marry.  [1]
    • According to article in Psychology Today, there are many explanations as to why women are not attracted to short men in the dating realm. [1]
    • According to New Republic article titled, "Short Men Make Better Boyfriends and Husband," short men are not as likely to divorce, they do more housework, and are more likely to marry older and less educated women  [1]  This is backed by "From Assortative to Ashortative Coupling: Men's Height, Height Heterogamy, and Relationship Dynamics in the United States." [1]
    • Physics: women are attracted to men who can do work.  In physics we know that work is force times displacement, and force is mass times acceleration.  Acceleration is the change of velocity over the change in time.  And velocity is the change is the change of distance over time.  Then we can say that women are attracted to males that have force and can move things over a distance within a given time.  And that's why they need big guys, so they can ... move the heavy couch.  Physics changes the way one thinks. hahaha
    • Side notes:
      • Women in their early 20s are seen as more desirable by males in just about every age bracket. Women tend to view attractive male age in a more relative way [1]
      • The trend for female pageant victors is towards taller than average height [1]  This is not representational of actual height.  This pageantry is similar to US males in politics.
      • Some imgur thing regarding female weight and male shortness. [1]
      • The video "Why Do We Have More Boys Than Girls" is a good brief explanation as to challenges men face on this romantic game--it's much tougher for short men to compete.
      • More than half the US people are now "single." [1]
      • Pickup and improving "game"
        • There is plenty of advice available on the internet regarding this topic.  If you are short then I think it would be wiser to take advice from a short mentor--this ensures that the mentor has a similar perspective as the student.  Now, be careful who your mentors are because they can help you, or they can make you have a very bad foundation.  By the way, the advice that goes "you just have to be who you are" is very poor advice.  The better advice is to "strive to be better today than what you were yesterday."
        • Simple Pickup, known for making viral pickup videos have a video titled "Short Guy Picks Up Tall Girls,"  in which they indicate that a short guy can get phone numbers.  (It would be interesting to see the number of failures too, oh wait here it is.).  The same guys did a "social dating experiment" in which they set up a guy who misleads women into thinking he was fit, but shows up as a fat guy--women didn't care about the lie as much but they cared about his outgoing personality and maybe unconsciously his height. (video 1) -- is this why they say that "women are attracted to ass holes?"  When they did the same experiment with a fat female liar the results were that men were generally angry at the false advertisement.  (video 2)
        • Cajun is one of the examples of what could be considered a "short" pickup artist that is well known in that community. Videos: 1, 2, 3.  Articles: "Meeting Women Online"
        • My advice on the whole dating scene is to realize that online dating is not your best option.  Real interactions will get you much further because then you can display all the qualities that may make you more attractive.  Also, remove that critical thinking mindset, and keep it playful and flirty!  ;-)
  • Legislation
    • The laws of nature and artificial laws, made by humans, do not always agree.  Written law is intended to protect you from other people, who are also supposed to follow the law.  In nature there are no "rights," yes, the tiger will eat you if it can.  So, some people think that the law is the ultimate holy grail of solving inequalities, but it's not.
    • US Federal
      • In the US, at the federal level, there is protection on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and political affiliation.  But, there is no federal level law regarding height. [1]
    • US State
      • Michigan has the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act that does prohibit discrimination on height. [1]
      • In the State of Utah there was a height and weight anti-discrimination bill, H.B. 132, introduced.  This bill did not pass. [12]
      • Height discrimination as described in "Height Discrimination In Employment" by Isaac B. Rosenberg, is an article with emphasis in employment and law in the State of Utah. [1]
    • By Country
      • China: A lawyer applying for a bank position was denied based on his stature.  He sued the bank.  Under the Chinese Constitution the citizens of China are "equal before the law."  The bank later on dropped the height requirement. [1, 2]
    • Wikipedia has a small summary of legislation related material that covers multiple countries [1].
  • Increasing height
  • Perceptions
    • After giving several presentations on this topic I have seen that people differ in the way they respond.
    • Tall to average height males are usually intrigued about this whole topic.  They even want to get the shoe inserts!
    • Short men are also intrigued and come to "realization" when I talk to them on a one-on-one basis; usually short men show signs of being very uncomfortable if I'm giving a presentation and these short men are in the presence of taller males or women.  I think it's almost as if I'm rubbing salt on an open wound.
    • Women: they tend to laugh and smile more often than males do--which may indicate that they find the idea of a short male height being a problem as on the side of humor.
  • Other stuff:
    • Support For The Short
    • Wikipedia: Height Discrimination
    • Dataclysmby same people from OKCupid, and the book has a section titled, "Tall for an Asian."
    • Strengths Finder 2.0, by Tom Rath, puts great detail into how Rudy's story makes a great movie due to the tremendous amount of effort--but this poor expectation did not create an NFL player.  The same book notes that basketball legend, Michael Jordan, would be the better example of  hard effort paired with the right conditions--resulting in success.  Although, there are exceptions like Muggsy Bogues at 5 foot 3 inches (wiki).  In MLS (Major League Soccer), a great example of what could be considered an exception is Joao Plata (mlssoccer)--a 5 foot 2 inch tall player; the shortest in the league.  Again though, exceptions are not the norm!  In the real-life story of "Seabiscuit" the horse is too small, and the jockey is too big!  In this case the jockey should be a small fellow, and according to wiki the height is usually around 4 foot 10 inches to 5 foot to 6 inches height.  In MotoGP racing the height is rarely over 6 feet tall, and average height (on 2013 season) was 5 feet 7 inches; the shortest being 5 feet 2 inches.  In Formula 1 the issue is not as much on height, but on weight--but shorter driver have an easier time being at the proper weight (drivers by weight and height).
    • Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell, is another book that has the same pattern, although far more extensive than Strengths Finders 2.0 at demonstrating how environment plays a very important role in unleashing human potential.
    • If one is to think about the global population's impact on the planet.  Impact meaning consumption of resources. Then what would happen if population height is increased?  Let's say that the average height of the entire population is a number X inches, and their impact is rated as 1.0 for food, 1.0 for clothing, 1.0 for transportation needs, and 1.0 for housing.  Their sum is then 4.0.  Then what if we increase the average height by 20%?  Well, then the impact also goes up by 20%, so index of 4.8.  This means that given a population of 7 billion people, the overall impact of a population would have been 28 billion, but as it has increased the impact is now 33.6 billion.  One can make the argument that a taller individual does consume more food [1], and requires larger sized clothing, transportation needs, and living space, and maybe other resources.  Thus, if one is highly concerned about global impact then one could say that shorter individuals are in alignment with ideas of conservation of resources. However, shorter individuals do tend to live longer [1] so their overall impact could be comparable to that of taller individuals.

If you are short then you are likely going to view this post as a collection of "negative things"--I know I did for a while.  But when we study this knowledge with an objective perspective then we can realize that we can choose better paths.  Sometimes we have expectations that are not realistic; sometimes we are not meant to be doing certain things; and this also means that if we choose the wrong paths then we are wasting our time and we are likely going to end up in an unhappy state.  On the other hand, if we form expectations that can be fulfilled then we are more likely to follow paths that can ultimately lead to happiness.  And so, I close this body of knowledge.

Bonus material. A small PowerPoint presentation called "You Sound Tall: Communication and Height Perception"
Look at all the bookmarks that I just removed from my internet browser!  Hurray!

Alpha Male video by National Geographic


  1. I found this very interesting. I enjoyed reading it. Would you be interested in researching how to reduce back pain or acid reflux?

    1. It can take a lot of time to understand those problems as they are intricate. So at the moment, the answer is no.