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According to scientists, short man syndrome is real and affects the likelihood that a vertically-challenged male will suffer from narcissistic and psychopathic tendencies. According to a recent study, shorter men are more likely to possess traits of the “dark triad of personality”.
The study’s lead author Monika Kozłowska, from the University of Wrocław in Poland, said: “When people cannot be physically formidable, they may become psychologically formidable instead.
“Shorter people with traits such as psychopathy can use them to demand respect, impose costs on others and impress romantic partners.
“Appearing more powerful may in turn make other people perceive them as taller than they really are.”
For the study, published in Elsevier journal Personality and Individual Differences, Ms Kozłowska investigated the “Napoleon Complex”.
This is a domineering or aggressive attitude displayed by shorter people compensating for their lack of height.
It is named after the French imperial leader Napoleon Bonaparte, who was reported to be either 5’2″ or 5’7″ in different historical accounts and mocked by British newspapers for his height during the French Revolution.
He was also portrayed by his enemies to be an angry man who sought power and war, and his smaller stature was linked to these characteristics.
Ms Kozłowska wanted to see if there was a connection between men deemed shorter than average, and displaying the “dark triad” personality traits.
These are psychopathy — defined by lack of empathy and antisocial behaviour; narcissism — self-centredness; and Machiavellianism — demonstrating manipulation and indifference towards morality.
Researchers surveyed 367 men and women using the dark triad questionnaire, where participants were asked how strongly they agree with phrases such as “I tend to manipulate others to get my way”.
From the responses, they were given a score that indicated how strongly they demonstrated psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism.
Each participant also had to disclose their height, as well as indicate how satisfied they were with their height and how frequently they felt this way about it.
The results showed shorter participants of both sexes who wished to be taller tended to score more highly for all three dark triad traits.
However, narcissism was particularly strong with male participants in this category, while this trend was non-existent for women.
The researchers hypothesise that these associations can be attributed to evolution.
They wrote: “Shorter men can demand respect, impose costs on others, acquire resources, and impress romantic partners by their traits.
“Shorter women can use deception to appear more desirable or to gain protection and resources.
“Additionally, appearing more powerful may in turn affect others’ perceptions of one’s estimated height.
“We propose that psychological formidability may provide advantages in survival and mating domains that offset losses in physical formidability.”
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