Powerdrunk people feel taller and bigger

January 24th, 2012 - 7:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 24 (IANS) People who feel powerful tend to overestimate their own stature, feeling 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 co-wrote 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,” the journal Psychological Science reports.

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 the study is the first to show the reverse may also be true. Power also makes people feel taller, according to a Cornell and Washington statement.

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 colour 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.

“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.

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