Let’s start this article with a question.
Have you ever lied about your height?
It’s certainly not an uncommon thing to do. Your overall size compared to other people and your surroundings is an important factor in how you see yourself and the world around you. And let’s face it, being tall has its social advantages. But what does the science have to say about height and its more subtle impacts?
According to research conducted in 2014, an individual’s height may directly impact feelings of security and paranoia. Researches Daniel Freeman, Nicole Evans, Rachel Lister, Angus Antley, Mel Slater, and Graham Dunn asked volunteers to participate in a virtual reality study in which they took a virtual journey through public transit at their normal height. The participants relayed their overall feelings.
The second time, they took the same public transit route, but the virtual reality simulator made them approximately one head shorter than their normal height. Although riding on a subway is hardly a complicated task, the participants related significantly different feelings when their height was altered to make them shorter.
The participants reported feeling more anxious, weak, inferior, and incompetent once their stature was lowered. But the participants weren’t told that their height had been lowered and they actually didn’t immediately notice feeling smaller than before. One participant felt that other virtual passengers were being hostile toward them when they were shorter, but not taller, even though the virtual passenger did not behave any differently.
The purpose of this study isn’t to point to short people and accuse them of being paranoid and jumpy, but to rather study how we combat paranoia. The researchers believe that paranoia may be stemmed in self image and feelings of being inferior and small.
“From this it follows that by helping someone to feel more positively about themselves we may be able to reduce their susceptibility to paranoid thoughts,” Daniel and Jason Freeman wrote in an article published in The Guardian.