Once a private military commander told Napoleon Bonaparte that he was uncomfortable with being taller than his emperor. They say then Napoleon replied:
- You are not taller than me, you are longer.
Napoleon himself was 1.7 meters tall, and the rest of the world dictators were quite low: Stalin's height was 1.65 meters, Franco was 1.62 meters, and Hitler's was 1.73 meters. But does the so-called "Napoleon complex" really exist? Do short men compensate for their short stature with aggressiveness and selfish behavior? New research suggests they can do this, but in a rather subtle form.
A recent study published by the Psychological Science Association suggests that such men do not tend to show physical aggression face to face with an opponent, but they tend to indirectly aggressively compete with taller men.
Previous research has shown that tall men seem to have an edge in life, the researchers note. They tend to be healthier and better educated, get higher positions at work, are more likely to hold positions of influence, and are generally considered more attractive. Fair enough that short men can feel somewhat disadvantaged.
To conduct the study, the scientists used a number of games. They first conducted a pilot study involving both men and women. Participants answered the question if they ever felt small, and then switched questionnaires to understand each other's feelings. Then the participants played the game "Dictator": each was in an isolated room and received an envelope with eight coins of 1 euro denomination. They could take as many coins as they wanted and the rest was given to other participants. It turned out that men who felt short took more coins for themselves, while women did not have such behavior.
Then 21 pairs of men played the same game against each other. Before the game started, they were introduced to each other and told that they would be opponents. They were given chips representing dimes, and they could keep any number of them. Then they played another game, Ultimatum. It was similar to the Dictator game, except that the participants could see how much money their opponent gave them and accept or reject the offer. Refusals resulted in no member receiving any money.
Researchers found that shorter men took more money for themselves only in the game "Dictator". The lowest men kept between 14 and 18 coins, while the tallest man kept only 9.
At the same time, short men were not so greedy in the Ultimatum game, nor were they aggressive in another game when it was necessary to mix hot chili sauce into the opponent's drink.
As a result, scientists concluded that shorter men are more likely to change their behavior in order to protect their resources when they feel less competitive physically, but only if there are no unpleasant consequences.
Thus, short guys will not behave more aggressively when faced with you face to face, however, when they feel slighted, they may try to beat you on the sly.