Scientists Confirm Short Man Syndrome Is Real

nicole kidman and tom cruise during
Scientists Confirm Short Man Syndrome Is RealSteve.Granitz

According to 2022 data, in the UK the average height for men is 178.2cm – that’s equal to 5ft 9in – putting the likes of Tom Holland, Tom Cruise and Mark Wahlberg in the ‘short man’ category. Now, that’s not to say there’s anything wrong with being short. Studies suggest that shorter men have faster reaction times, stronger muscles in proportion to body weight and are less likely to break bones when falling.

You’d think short men would be happier, right? Well, according to a new study, apparently not. The study claims that ‘short man syndrome’ is a very real thing with those affected by it displaying more narcissistic tendencies to appear more powerful.

Investigating the so-called ‘Napoleon Complex’, named after the 5ft 2in French leader Napoleon Bonaparte, who sought power through aggression and was mocked by British newspapers for his height during the French Revolution, Polish researchers wanted to see if there was a connection between the physical and the psychological, specifically the ‘dark triad’ personality traits:

  • Psychopathy: lack of empathy and antisocial behaviours

  • Narcissism: self-centredness

  • Machiavellianism: Manipulation and indifference towards mortality

Surveying 367 men and women using a dark triad questionnaire, each person was given a score indicating how strongly they demonstrated these traits. As part of the study, they also had to disclose how satisfied they were with their height and how frequently they felt this way about it.

The results showed that shorter participants wished to be taller and scored more highly for all three dark triad traits – narcissism was particularly strong with the male participants.

Speaking on the results, lead researcher Monika Koslowska from the University of Wrocław in Poland said: “Shorter people with traits such as psychopathy can use them to demand respect, impost costs on others and impress romantic partners.

“Appearing more powerful may in turn make other people perceive them as taller than they really are.

“Shorter men can demand respect, impose costs on others, acquire resources, and impress romantic partners by their traits… We propose that psychological formidability may provide advantages in survival and mating domains that offset losses in physical formidability.”

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