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People who achieve higher status are seen as taller - even if they aren't.

People who achieve higher status are seen as taller – even if they aren’t.

Height plays a big role in how we are perceived and even the level of income we might reach. It has been noted that taller men are significantly more likely to earn higher salaries, and be promoted, then shorter men of similar experience and qualifications. This is because we attribute more favourable qualities to taller people, just like we do for attractive women. We can call this the “halo effect” because taller and more attractive people are treated like angels, even though there is no reason to believe that they are more deserving than anyone else. Unfortunately, this phenomenon also occurs in reverse. Shorter and less attractive people are thought to be less intelligent and lazy. Many research studies looking at the treatment differences of thin people versus those who are obese have shown that bystanders are significantly more likely to come to the assistance of the more attractive people over those who are overweight. Overweight people in distress are often outright ignored.

While the facts surrounding the halo effect might not come as a surprise, the fact that those in positions of power also receive more favourable ratings might. For example, bosses, professors, judges, and others in positions of authority are perceived to be taller than they really are. Shorter bosses are given a few extra inches and bosses that are the same height as an employee will be said to be taller than them. These ratings have everything to do with their relative importance. Because they are leaders, we give them leadership qualities. Therefore, height perception is due, in part, to the positions held by the people around us. Even those with quieter personalities will be perceived as shorter than they really are, and those with more assertive and authoritative attitudes will be perceived as taller.

Height is used as a means of establishing superior-subordinate relationships. These can be real as it is with short and tall people or circumstantial as in happens by modifying ones environment or posture. The judge is at a high bench for a reason, he is trying to reign over his courtroom and establish his importance. The same goes for King’s or the Pope whom take balcony vantage points to address their followers. The pharmacist on the other hand is a compete mystery!