Study finds people who worry about being short more likely to have ‘dark personality traits’
Any woman who has been on a date will recognize the scene. You enter the bar or restaurant; you are excited and enthusiastic and notice him across the room. He sees you, both of you smiling. Then he stands up and you immediately realize he lied about his height. 5ft 7in but said 6ft.
Among my female friends, this has happened over and over again. In fact, I suspect men lie more about their height on dating apps than their age. But who are they trying to deceive? It seems like such a silly lie – once you see them, it’s game over.
I think that says a lot about the power we have for self-deception. These same men have honestly convinced themselves that they are as tall as they say they are. The irony is that I don’t think women are put off by a man being a few inches away from 6ft, it’s men who lie.
Inevitably, they wonder what it says about their date’s character that they would literally compliment themselves like that.
Well, according to a new study last week, there may be very real reason to be cautious. It shows that those who worry about little ones are more likely to have “dark personality traits”, including narcissism and psychopathy.
Researchers at Italy’s University of Padua have suggested that when people can’t be “physically awesome”—in other words, tall—they try to be psychologically “awesome,” which can lead to manipulative, cynical behavior and a lack of empathy for others.
But hold on. We all tend to exaggerate our height, convincing ourselves and others that we are taller than we really are, and we are not all psychopaths!
I always see this concern around height. When I do physicals at my clinic, no one seems to care much about your blood pressure or heart rate, but they are always very interested in measuring your height. And they are almost always disappointed. “Oh, I thought I was taller,” they used to say.
It’s not uncommon for patients to be so convinced I’ve made a mistake that they ask me to measure them again, and each time they’re convinced they’re taller than they really are. No one ever thought they were shorter.
At 6ft 1in – indeed! – I’m relatively tall, so maybe it’s easy to dismiss this obsession. In fact, several of my otherwise smart, rational and sensible friends (who are quite a few inches shorter than me) have tried to convince me that they are 6ft tall and therefore I should be 6ft 4in. I’m not at all. .
The fact is that as a society we tend to value height. Research shows that taller people tend to have higher self-esteem and confidence. A study of Swedish men found that shorter people were at greater risk of low mood and suicide.
Height also seems to have certain social advantages. Those who are taller are more likely to go to higher education, for example.
This is true even when low and high people have the same IQ, suggesting that there must be some unconscious bias at work when applying to college or university.
The bias lasts a lifetime: People over 6 feet earn an average of $180,000 more over a 30-year career than people who are shorter.
Undoubtedly, these advantages derive in part from the widespread tendency to associate height with power. This tendency is built into our language: for example, we look up to people we consider superior, or we look down on inferiors.
It’s not like it’s all plain sailing if you’re taller than average. I have had several tall patients who hated their height. For example, if you are not very confident, it is difficult to blend in. There is literally nowhere to hide.
The truth is, our height shouldn’t define how we feel.
Of course, there is nothing inherently strong or weak about being tall or short. As for being a psychopath, well, I’d take that association with a big pinch of salt.
However, flaunting your height on a dating app is different.
On the one hand, I feel sorry for men who feel they have to. But on the other hand, it sounds the alarm bells—loudly. Be careful when you date. Self-deception is not an attractive trait in anyone. It’s much better to fall for someone whose head isn’t in the clouds.
According to a recent study, people who worry about being short have “dark personality traits.” It should be added that height confers social advantages, as taller people are more likely to attend, for example, higher education.