Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Powerful people feel taller than they are

Date:
January 23, 2012
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
After the huge 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the chairman of BP referred to the victims of the spill as the "small people." He explained it as awkward word choice by a non-native speaker of English, but the authors of a new paper published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, wondered if there was something real behind it.

After the huge 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the chairman of BP referred to the victims of the spill as the "small people." He explained it as awkward word choice by a non-native speaker of English, but the authors of a new paper published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, wondered if there was something real behind it. In their study, they found that people who feel powerful tend to overestimate their own height -- they feel physically larger than they actually are.

"Maybe there's a physical experience that goes along with being powerful," says Jack A. Goncalo of Cornell University, who cowrote the paper with Michelle M. Duguid of Washington University. "For people who are less powerful, maybe other people and objects loom larger, and for the powerful everything else just seems smaller." Plenty of research has shown that taller people are more likely to acquire power; taller people make more money, on average, and are more likely to be promoted. But our research is the first to show the reverse may also be true power also makes people feel taller.

In one experiment, subjects came to the lab in pairs. First they had their heights measured. Then they were given a leadership aptitude test and told that, based on their feedback, they would each be assigned to play the role of the manager or the employee. They were given fake feedback, then randomly assigned a role. After that, each person filled out a questionnaire with personal information, including eye color and height. People who had been told they would be the manager, with complete control over the work process and power to evaluate the employee, said they were taller than the actual measurement. The subject who had been told they would be the employee gave a height that was more or less the same as their real height.

Other experiments found similar results -- that people who feel powerful overestimate their height. So maybe Carl-Henric Svanberg really did feel taller than the people affected by the Gulf oil spill. The results may also explain why diminutive leaders might still behave like people twice their height -- they actually feel taller.

"Given that height is associated with power, raising your height may make you feel powerful," Goncalo says -- which helps explain the continuing popularity of high heels and offices on the top floor.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. M. Duguid, J. A. Goncalo. Living Large: The Powerful Overestimate Their Own Height. Psychological Science, 2011; 23 (1): 36 DOI: 10.1177/0956797611422915

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Powerful people feel taller than they are." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120123175758.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2012, January 23). Powerful people feel taller than they are. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120123175758.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Powerful people feel taller than they are." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120123175758.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Researchers claim they’ve diagnosed the first example of the disorder in a 31-year-old U.S. Navy serviceman. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Large and in Charge: Powerful People Overestimate Their Own Height

Jan. 16, 2012 The psychological experience of power makes people feel taller than they are, according to new research. It seems there is actually a physical experience that goes along with feeling ... read more

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins