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Thread: psychology of size

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    psychology of size

    You ever notice how people in positions of leadership tend to be taller than average height? Not always but more often than not this seems to be the case. In this society most positions of power are still held by males, but as more and more women break into leadership positions I wonder if the same tendency will hold true?

    Being tall and being male is generally seen as an advantage, but on the flip side of the coin it would seem that being tall and being female can be viewed as being somewhat of a misfortune. My brother is 6'4" and his wife is 6'3" - she once said she was 'lucky' to have found a guy who likes tall women; dates were not easy to come by - she thought most guys were intimidated by taller women.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    There's a definite difference in how people treat eachother based on height. Its a first impression at least, until you realize what the person acts like. There are plenty of authoritative short people and diminuitive tall people out there. The difference is exactly why I try to stretch myself out every morning like Bobby Brady.

  3. #3
    (for now) Frozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I'm with Seabishop. This is really only a concern at first impression/meeting. Most times it dissipates over time and interaction with the individual.

    I tend not to really precieve the phenomenon. I am 6'-1" and 230 lbs and my wife always says I am phyiscally imposing, although my personality is hardly imposing.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  4. #4
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    I'm with Seabishop. This is really only a concern at first impression/meeting. Most times it dissipates over time and interaction with the individual.

    I tend not to really precieve the phenomenon. I am 6'-1" and 230 lbs and my wife always says I am phyiscally imposing, although my personality is hardly imposing.
    But if it's only a first impression kinda thing, we wouldn't expect to see a proportionally larger number of tall folks in positions of leadership, yet this seems to be the case.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  5. #5
    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    I'm with Seabishop. This is really only a concern at first impression/meeting. Most times it dissipates over time and interaction with the individual.

    I tend not to really precieve the phenomenon. I am 6'-1" and 230 lbs and my wife always says I am phyiscally imposing, although my personality is hardly imposing.
    I'm with mendleman on this one. I'm 6'4" and 270, with the broad shoulders, big arms and deep chest (think archetype viking). Physically, I look intimidating and can have a strong personality. However, most of the time I'm pretty quite and keep to myself.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  6. #6
    (for now) Frozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister
    But if it's only a first impression kinda thing, we wouldn't expect to see a proportionally larger number of tall folks in positions of leadership, yet this seems to be the case.
    That seems resonable. Maybe the "taller" people have more self-confidence, as opposed to "shorter" people, given our culturally/naturally ingrained slightly negative prejudice against the "shortys" (sorry skateboard parts manufacturer ).

    Remember Randy Newman......

    BTW, above average female height is great on a hotty!
    Last edited by mendelman; 06 Oct 2005 at 2:28 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    My couple directors have all been shorter than me...men and women.

    I'm probably one of the taller persons in my office at 6 ft even. However, in the code enforcment division is the tallest women I have ever known.. she's 6'7"..maybe 6'8". Sometimes height may actually cause hardship to advancement. It seems that many treat her differently because of her height. I'm not in that division often enough to know if it's treated wrongly or rightly...but it does seem different.

    I do think height has something to do with it. It may be related to respecting your "elders" you know.. a child looking up to his/her parent or other respect adults. I wonder if that psychology is built in, regardless of age.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    When they do studies about what makes someone appear 'powerful' and 'authoritative', the qualities listed are generally masculine ones and include things like height. (Perhaps that will change some as more women get leadership roles.) So, I think if you are taller (among other things), you do get treated more like a leader -- possibly without realizing how you are treated differently, in much the way that pretty girls are often unaware of how they are treated so differently from others (something I have had some insight into because my health problems have allowed me to be unpretty for a year or so on two occasions and then return to being pretty -- it's intriguing how differently people act around me when I am "pretty" and when I am not). I know that when I argue with men, sometimes they stand up, apparently to try to subtly intimidate me. My response to that is to also stand up -- they find that they do not tower over me nearly as much as they expected to and it takes some of the wind out of their sails.

    From the other side -- the subjective experience of the person who is tall -- I think height gives one a certain amount of physical prowess even if one is not athletic. I am a lot more athletic than my sister but not much taller than her. We both carried our kids on our hip until they were like 6 or 7 -- a lot of smaller women cannot do that. I think simply having that ability ...having strength and stamina and reach ... you realistically judge yourself able to do things that other people realistically judge themselves unable to do. Or you are confident you can do them easily, without struggle, whereas others could do them but not so easily and assuredly. So there are times when you do not hesitate in the face of things which make others balk, and that kind of thing often makes the difference between who becomes a leader and who becomes a follower. For example, when I was very active in Army Family Support Groups, I often took leadership roles well before the "norm" for my age and my husband's rank (spouse's rank becomes the defacto pecking order most of the time in such meetings). I had the confidence to speak up, often no one else really did, and all of sudden whatever idea I had tossed out became The Plan and I ended up in charge of a big piece of it, much to my astonishment.

    I think that effect, multiplied over time, is a small difference which has a large cumulative effect in this case.

    Just my 2 cents.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally posted by boiker
    However, in the code enforcment division is the tallest women I have ever known.. she's 6'7"..maybe 6'8".
    I had a woman boss once who was nearly that same height -- maybe 6'5" or 6"6". She was a former college basketball player, and I think she knew how to use her height to her advantage, subconsciously intimidating people by standing and offering downward glances. Even though she's a real nice person that I know and like to this day, her posturing worked on me.

    BTW, does anyone remember that President Bush (5'11") and his aides argued for presidential debates that would either have he and John Kerry (6'4") seated at tables or behind podiums set at a great distance from each other, to negate the difference in height?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Just a reminder for all the tall people out there to get your subscriptions to http://www.tallmagazine.com. I'm thinking of starting PUNY magazine for those of us who have to share tips on outrunning bullies and saying "no" to burly general contractors.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    I am not even 5' tall but I have never had a problem getting the biggest, burliest developers to back down, as long as I know what I'm talking about. And I don't think I've ever missed out on a job due to my height (or lack thereof). Maybe I've missed out on a couple because I'm not a slut, but that would be hard to prove... (that the other one is a slut, I mean...)

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