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What is Heightism?

Heightism as described by Wikipedia is: a form of discrimination based on height. In principle it can refer to unfavorable treatment of either unusually tall or short people.

Wikipedia breaks Heightism into 6 categories:
1. bullying
2. employment
3. politics
4. conflict
5. dating and marriage
6. in the media

We’ll cover heightism in dating and marriage, bullying and employment as noted at wikipedia.com.

Heightism in dating and marriage

Heightism may also be a factor in dating preferences. For some people, height is a major factor in sexual attractiveness.

The greater reproductive success of taller men is attested to by studies indicating that taller men are more likely to be married and to have more children, except in societies with severe gender imbalances caused by war. Quantitative studies of woman-for-men personal advertisements have shown strong preference for tall men, with a large percentage indicating that a man significantly below average height was unacceptable.

Conversely, studies have shown that women of below average height are more likely to be married and have children than women of above average height. Some reasons which have been suggested for this situation include earlier fertility of shorter women, and that a shorter woman makes her husband feel taller in comparison and therefore more masculine.

It is unclear and debated as to the extent to which such preferences are innate or are the function of a society in which height discrimination impacts on socio-economic status. Certainly, much is always made in newspapers and magazines of celebrity couples with a notable height difference, especially where a man is shorter than his wife (for example, Jamie Cullum, five inches (12.7 cm) shorter at 5′ 6″ (168 cm) than Sophie Dahl, though the difference is often exaggerated).

Heightism and bullying

Research shows that shorter people are more likely to be victims of bullying. Because bullying during childhood and adolescence often undermines the victim’s self-esteem, some researchers speculate that the lower levels of achievement of shorter people (particularly men) in later life may be partly or largely explained by this lower self esteem rather than by discrimination.

Heightism in employment

Some jobs do require or at least favor tall people, including some manual labor jobs, most professional sports, and fashion modeling. U.S. military pilots have to be 64 to 77 inches (163 to 196 cm) tall with a sitting height of 34 to 40 inches (86 to 102 cm).[4] These exceptions noted, in the great majority of cases a person’s height would not seem to have an effect on how well they are able to perform their job. Nevertheless, studies have shown that short people are paid less than taller people, with disparities similar in magnitude to the race and gender gaps.

A survey of Fortune 500 CEO height in 2005 revealed that they were on average 6 feet (183 cm) tall, which is approximately 2-3 inches (7.5 cm) taller than the average American man. Fully 30% of these CEOs were 6 foot 2 inches (188 cm) tall or more; in comparison only 3.9% of the overall United States population is of this height. Similar surveys have uncovered that less than 3% of CEOs were below 5′7″ in (170 cm) height or taller than 6’2″ in height. Ninety percent of CEOs are of above average height.

Some epidemiological studies have shown that intelligence is positively correlated, albeit very slightly, with height in human populations (see Height and intelligence). This does not imply that many short people are not highly intelligent, or that changes in physical height have a direct effect on cognitive ability. Intelligence is believed to be influenced by many different factors. Individuals with a wide range of intelligence can be observed at any given height. It may be that good childhood nutrition tends to result in greater adult height, and good childhood nutrition also tends to result in higher adult intelligence. A recent study using four data sets from the US and UK found that, after controlling for differences in cognitive test scores, there was no detectable independent effect of height itself on adult earnings. It did indicate that intelligence influences earnings. Taller people, on average are more intelligent because environmental factors such as nutrition during childhood, also influences intelligence. The study concludes that on average, taller people do not earn more just because of their physical height.

Others believe that height has a significant independent impact on economic success, pointing to specific instances of height-based discrimination. Surveys of attitudes do reveal that people both perceive and treat people of shorter stature as inferior, and that economic differentials exist which may be the result of height discrimination. The relationship between height, cognitive ability, and discrimination based on height remains a subject of debate.

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