Study: Tall people more successful

By Andrew Bonifant

The term “vertically challenged” has been pinned on short people for years, but according to a recent study, they could be challenged in more ways than feet and inches.

The study, conducted by two professors from Princeton University, has delved into the comparative chances of success between short and tall people. Titled “Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes,” the report considers financial statistics between short and tall people. Their work concludes that taller people are more successful because they are smarter.

One trend examined in the study showed that American men in white-collar jobs are, on average, up to an inch taller than those in blue-collar jobs. Similar observations were found regarding the occupations of women in the United Kingdom in relation to their height. Taller women found jobs as professionals and managers, while shorter women worked in unskilled manual occupations. In addition, taller children have received better scores on cognitive tests than shorter children.

The study also mentioned that factors like social class, nutrition and chemical hormones can affect growth rate and intelligence.

Thomas Koenig, chair of the department of sociology and anthropology at Northeastern, said he thinks the study is interesting, but that some work needs to be done before its claim can be made.

“Correlation is not causation, as the saying goes, and there may be a hidden factor,” Koenig said. That’s where I have a problem with the study, and where I’d like to see it controlled.”

Koenig said he understood the framework of the study, which said taller people are given better jobs based on an assumption that they are more impressive and look as if they should be in charge. He also said the media has helped broaden the effect of the study beyond what the scientists intended.

“This [belief] is very common, and with the media and newspapers picking it up, you want the dramatic headline,” Koenig said. “They don’t mention the warnings over what they haven’t done. … These are serious scholars, and I don’t think they are trying to make wild claims.”

Though Koenig said he felt the study had some scientific value, students’ opinions of the report ranged from skeptical to dismissive.

Regina Fetterolf, a graduate student in the College of Student Development and Counseling, had a personal take on the topic.

“I’m short, so I will tend to disagree,” she said. “I think there’s something to be said for the sense that taller people seem older, have more authority and are more in charge.”

Dayna Bradstreet, a middler psychology major, shares Koenig’s wish for further study on the subject.

“It’s just one study,” Bradstreet said. “With any kind of science, you have to have multiple studies to confirm the hypothesis. I’m 5 feet 1 inch and I’m an Ell Scholar. It shows that there are smart short people, and taller people who are not as smart.”

“It’s more social than anything, and to assume a taller person is more intelligent would be unwise,” Bradstreet said.

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