Peter Grabas

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Are one of the reason that more people who are tall -or large- are more successful than not due to primal reasons?

It occurs to me that one of the reason that more people who are tall or large, are more successful than not are subject to primal reasons. Size and expansiveness are subconsciously motivating or de-motivating us in primal ways to succeed or to acquiesce.

If you are short, what were your experiences with success and dominance?
The same question if you are tall, what were your experiences with success and dominance?.

If you are tall or large have you found this to be an asset or a liability with people's expectations or prejudices toward you? The same question if you are short.

People of average height and girth, did you experience or observe any of these preconceptions, expectations or prejudice?

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    Oct 6 2012: The athletic and muscular are percieved as strong and adventurous;
    the thin and frail are usually percieved as tense, pessimistic and quiet;
    and the fat and round are percieved as less powerful, even though they are seen as sympathetic, agreeable, and dependent.
    I''m 5.8'; and as an actor I've been busy since the beginning of my career. I think for the film/Tv industry it depends on what character or personality or look that is sought. But for the 'ladies man' image, taller men have an advantage; and for the pretty-girl model look taller girls are preffered.
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      Oct 8 2012: Feyisayo I think you have touched on something important: "I think for the film/Tv industry it depends on what character or personality or look that is sought." I think media is the biggest tool that sets the agenda, creating and recreating stereotypes. I have been watching TV shows of soldiers and warriors, cops etc. and when I go to you tube to see real soldiers, in real combat, and cops in real life they look quite different and in a variety of shapes and sizes. And of course things are awkward, sloppy and inarticulate and yet very engaging, impact-ful and meaningful. It makes you wonder if actors were chosen without the stereotypes would the business of TV or movies sell as well, or even work?
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        Oct 9 2012: TV and films without the stereotypes may not be as successful as it is now. The actor's experience on the screen is a typical audience's member's avenue of escape into this make-believe world where front-line troops are still saying all the cheesy lines and all the smart retorts......real life is not as meaningful and exciting, so films and TV has to be packaged such that in a romantic film, the handsome guy who is so in love with this girl just knows what to say and do to keep the girl happy......Mr Grabas, you are right on this one.
  • Oct 17 2012: I am a taller woman. I know there have been instances where my opinion was considered more due to my height. It's a man's world- one of my tall advantages is that I am more able to look most men in the eye. Bending the neck to speak to someone sends the speaker back to a time when they have done that before-while talking to children.
    I believe that other women are aware of my advantage (although they may not recognize it as my height) or have observed it because on serveral occasions female co-workers have come to my with ideas and asked me to present those ideas to management. Their ideas are terrific and there should be no reason they don't pitch them.
    Of course of have used many stereotypes in this post and I'm no social psychologist. Just my experience. (My advice to women-have your meetings while seated in adjustable chairs :)
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      Oct 19 2012: This is very insightful Julie. Have your meetings so you can look eye to eye, is born from experience. Frankly I have always appreciated taller women for just that reason, and they seemed more confident and less likely to put up with crap--although a few petite women have terrorized with their tenacity. :-) I guess what I am seeing starting to be a pattern is that size helps with self image, and thus confidence and perhaps that is why these women approached you instead of their target.
  • Oct 10 2012: Nice tip, Anne Oneill!
    The success or failure of your apparent dominance or lack of dominance would be determined by how the way you appear matches your social standing and social expectations.
    For instance, being a tall woman in my era (I grew to 6 ft. born in mid-1950s) put me in the situation of getting noticed when I'd walk into a room. Being tall was the first thing many people commented about, so I had to have a reply ready to the question of "how tall are you?" As a young person, I learned to make myself appear less threatening and calculating by letting all my breath out before I talked to make it seem as if I wasn't planning ahead at what I said. (Later that was a habit I worked to eliminate!) I hated intimidating others, but that's how people acted around me. So I had to learn to deal with it.
    I had a friend who was a very athletic, short and round person who loved to dance. People were amused to watch him dance just because he looked funny and incongruous while doing it; sort of like an animated Michelin-man thug.

    Everyone in some ways has to deal with these repercussions of matching or disappointing the expectations of their culture. Anywhere we do not match social expectations of who we appear to be contrasted with who we feel we are inside - there are going to be issues.

    So I believe that social "tags" of what behaviors mean to our culture are more important than the dominant ancient physical displays in our culture. Certainly primal physical factors are working underneath our ability to sense or admit them, but overlaid and more obvious are the symbolic social meanings that we've been sold.

    For instance, nature wants people to get fat as an expression of natural success. But now, fat people aren't considered attractive in our culture anymore. Our culture "sold us" on the benefits of being slim. Being fat is now a sign of someone not being able to move around and exert themselves. That's why my energetic, round dancing friend was so amusing.
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    Oct 9 2012: The "pride" pose that Amy Cuddy descirbed, is one that after many years, my husband discovered was a universal toddler attractant. That is, my husband could raise his arms and give an open-mouthed smile to a toddler, (stranger) and get immediate recognition. It often caused the child to run towards him in delight, sometimes alarming the child's parents as their child dashed off affectionately towards a complete stranger. What more fundamental roll of a leader to draw in even the children! Since he loved toddlers, he enjoyed this 'game' immensely and some parents were simply charmed at the friendliness of their child. Try the pose and I'd guess you'll get the same response. Please use responsibly.
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      Oct 9 2012: lol I think I'll give it a try at the singles bar this weekend and see what happens!
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    Oct 7 2012: I recall reading in Psychology Today about 30 years ago, a study that correlated height with management stature in American corporations. Tall men were indeed more sucessful than short.
    I"m curious to read about the pitbull/enthusiasm traits ascribed to short people, which I hadn't noticed all my life despite my being 4'11'. But I have to acknowledge the observational wisdom of more than a few people I've heard from about this lately and appreicate learning this.
    I do often feel literally and figuratively overlooked. I have often spotted my 6' husband over the 35 years of our marraige, across a room, but it will take full-length arm waving and even a whistle tone to get him to actually SEE me even when he appears to be looking straight at me. Now that I'm widowed, other new best friends continue to have this same problem finding me in a crowd, even when we both have a clear line of sight. Bigger, dramatic gestures help, even though others are often amused by them.
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      Oct 8 2012: Very interesting Anne. The tallness in corporations--makes me wonder if that is just true for corporations or it that is a reflection of successful people in general. In example most corps today were built on the military model, and the military had needs and rewards for the biggest and tallest (Napoleon was an exception). But in other businesses or Education or Arts is it also true?
      And thank you for your personal story, that is at the heart of the question. It sounds like a major nuisance to have to contend with that all the time and makes me curious if it did/does create barriers with others? Or prejudices? I dont mean to get too personal, but your answer was deep, profound and honest.
  • Oct 6 2012: I am a taller person and I am quite quiet and don't strive to be the centre of attention.
    Short people on the other hand I notice tend to get the 'little man syndrome' where they must be the centre of attention by any means.

    So to make things clear as a large person (tall, not overweight) I tend to hang back in a crowd and observe people, whereas small people (short, any body type) tend to try and push themselves forward because of the medias portrayal of tall and jacked being idealistic, so they cover for that 'shortfall' by being more outgoing. Or at least thats my view on it
    • Oct 6 2012: Yeah, the "pitbull syndrome", I've noticed that too and I live across the ocean from you. Short people do tend to put themselves out there more and I can't blame them because tall people do have it easier in many ways.
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      Oct 8 2012: Interesting Scott--I'm curious if you noticed if the shorter people tend to be in the majority, average or minority in the 'successful' category?
      • Oct 8 2012: I would say the majority, but thats just based on the higher number of shorter people. So I am playing the odds. It also depends on your definition of success is, ie what your looking at. ex. in sports tall people are definately the majority
    • Oct 9 2012: I have to agree with Scott, I am a exceptionally tall male (7ft2) and also fairly quite and never find myself putting myself forward in an attempt to be the center of attention. Maybe our height 'advantage' has changed our mind, like the talk suggested.

      Very interesting talk. I have been wondering about how someones physical assets (such as height) might affect character and mentality.
  • Oct 19 2012: Hi Peter,
    178.2 cm (5' 10.2") US men, 164.1 cm (5' 4.6") US women.
    I wonder if height has decreased in general with the increase in Asian and Mexican population? Seems so to me as someone who graduated from High school in the late 60's.
    I think politics is subject to the problem of 24-hour 'news' stations who use that repetitive message to support an agenda. Then there is the internet, blogs, etc.
    I am about to leave for tango practica.; in 4" heels :-)..
  • Oct 18 2012: I am 5'6" tall, but I have always carried myself well. I often have people say "What are you;about 5'9"?
    My family moved often when I was growing up, but I managed to do well in school, become sophomore class president, make cheerleader (and then have to move).
    I was looking at the oft repeated myth of Presidential height being a factor in who wins. In my lifetime, that is surely not the case, and at age 12 I remember vividly the Nixon-Kennedy debate. We had returned that day from 14 months overseas, and I had seen NO TV to influence my thoughts. I told my Mom, regarding Nixon; "That man is a crook and I will never vote for him." Surely, Kennedy out-power positioned him, to be sure..
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      Oct 19 2012: Come to think of it Serena--how tall is the average woman? As for Nixon-Kennedy, they were both very extraordinary men, and both very flawed as well. Most pundits claim that Nixon lost the debate because he had that dark 5 o'clock shadow and perspired heavily, much in line with the 50's-60's stereotype of 'crooks.' I dont remember if Kennedy was taller, but lhe certainly looked great on camera. I miss the 'old' days, since there was much more debate over issues and facts unlike today where it really is sound bytes and shallow. (Politics has never changed, but it does swing from better to worse and back, but we are on a worse swing right now)
  • Oct 12 2012: Even the sound of a voice can have a significant effect. Studies have shown that individuals can accurately deterime upper body physical strength from verbal cues.
    This is a primal response - Darth Vader would not appear as threatening if he were small, or had a squeaky voice!
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      Oct 19 2012: I believe you are quite right, but if you just meet someone before they speak, then you only have the visual to influence you. The TED talk that spawned this question is about posture, and how we respond to ours and others. That posture if confident results in our standing and expanding to full height, etc.
  • Oct 8 2012: Very good Peter. Of course, there is substantial data to suggest being tall helps a great deal - at least in this society. However, to mention short-man's syndrome to someone who isn't is probably not smart. Notwithstanding, this opens a large number of questions to someone who believes that the World is filled with rational people - Nope - Why would there be so much advertising. Look at the recent Presidential debate and what can be done with process language to"win" the debate. For you short guys - competent short guys - the world isn't smartg or rational. Watch the salesman and watch the sky.
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    Oct 7 2012: i think you ideas reflect some of our life .people who are fat and strang are much more successful but it is not the rooted we can also see some people who are thin mayun ,steven and so on .

    while about the idea that Size and expansiveness are subconsciously motivating or de-motivating us in primal ways to succeed or to acquiesce. .i think you are right ,but not all of .some people are just like a pig .always eat no work..they can also get fat .
  • Oct 7 2012: Being pleasing plump is something I have never found as advantageous, but being tall would obviously help
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      Oct 8 2012: I never considered fat or large as part of the primal size I started this with. It is certainly worthy of discussion though, except that I think there are a whole cart full of added preconceptions that come with that, that muddy the discussion. The perception of fat has changed in the last hundred years. For most of humanity's existence, we have strived to be 'fat' as a sign of success, wealth and power, today we have 'thin' as a sign of that success. I wonder if being successful, fat and tall carries any primal images.