Annika’s Senior Thesis: Height Pays Off


Height Pays Off

The well known phrase “hard work pays off,” while frequently true, is not the only factor impacting men’s occupational success. Good news for all tall men out there! Another factor is height, which has been shown to be associated with success, particularly for men. While the relationship between height and success is not a set rule, there is a clear association between the two. Height can play a crucial role in career progression and salary growth. 

For a man to be considered tall in the United States of America, he must be above the national average of 5’9″ (“Body Measurements”). Successful men are defined as those who earn higher salaries than middle class Americans. According to Pew Research Center, a Washington D.C. based polling and research organization, the salary of middle class American citizens is between $41,000 and $132,000 (“America’s Shrinking”). A man who makes more than an American middle class income would be considered upper class, and therefore successful. 

According to a study by the American Psychological Association, which is the largest professional organization of psychologists in America, men who are six feet tall earn $166,000 more over a 30-year period than men who are 5’5″ are shorter, even when controlling for factors such as age and weight (Dittman). 

Another study conducted by Professors of Economics at Ohio State University, Andreas Schick and Andreas Steckle, found that men who are taller than the 25th percentile of height, which is 5’11” in the United States, earn up to 15% more than those who are shorter than the 75th percentile of height, which is 5’7″ (Schick and Steckel). 


Why Do Tall Men Earn More?

Well, research shows that taller men are more likely to achieve occupational success due to their social perception, self-confidence, and level of education. All of these qualities are connected to their height, and ultimately make them more successful. 



A study conducted by Professors of Communication at Stanford University, Nick Yee and Jeremy Bailenson, found that men who are shorter than their counterparts are 72% more likely to accept unfair offers in persuasion situations than those who are taller.

The study used virtual reality to eliminate any external factors, ensuring that only height was the variable in play. The participants were placed in a virtual reality setting with a computer-generated avatar, which only differed in height. The avatar pitched an unfair split of money in favor of itself, and the results showed that those who were 3.94 inches shorter than the avatar were more likely to accept the offer (Yee and Bailenson).

The study highlights the importance of height in the daily life of men in the workplace, particularly in jobs that involve sales and interpersonal connections. Persuasion skills are crucial to these types of jobs, and height can directly impact a man’s ability to persuade. Even in positions where persuasion skills aren’t as essential, this quality is still important in the hiring process, as candidates must persuade employers to hire them during interviews.

The study also suggests that men who have higher persuasion skills are more valued in their occupation, which can positively impact their occupational success. So, fellas, if you’re on the shorter side, it might be worth honing those persuasion skills to level the playing field in the workplace.


Social Perception

Research has shown that taller men are perceived as being more powerful, which gives them an upper hand in the workplace. A study conducted by Michelle A. Worth, a Professor at Rowan University, had 117 psychology students rate a man’s perceived power based on a picture of him, his height, name, and hometown. The tall man, who was 6’2″, was rated four full points higher in “power” than the short man, who was 5’5″. The students’ responses showed that the perception of taller men as more powerful is almost universal (Worth). This perception creates an advantage for taller men, who are more respected by their coworkers and have an easier time influencing others.

Furthermore, being perceived as powerful is essential in leadership positions and career advancement. In addition to this, taller men are more likely to be seen as capable of leading their colleagues than shorter men. The advantages that come with being perceived as more powerful make it easier for taller men to succeed in their careers. For this reason, height plays a significant role in social perception and career advancement.


Self Confidence

Self-confidence is key to success in many areas of life, and men who are more self-assured often have more success in their careers. This is due in part to their ability to negotiate effectively and influence others with their perceived dominance. As Gert Stulp, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Groningen, notes, “Taller individuals, particularly taller men, have higher levels of self-esteem than shorter individuals and are more likely to see themselves as leaders, which may result in taller individuals displaying more self-confidence in social interactions,”  (Stulp et al.). This self-confidence can help men build stronger relationships with employers, clients, and coworkers, which is crucial for success in many jobs that require good leadership skills. Ultimately, when it comes to career advancement, height can be a valuable asset for men who want to build confidence, influence others, and achieve success in their chosen field.


Educational Attainment 

It turns out that height can actually impact a man’s level of education. A recent study by Alicja Szklarska, a professor at the Polish Academy of Sciences, found that taller men are more likely to pursue higher levels of education than shorter men. The study looked at survey data from 90,000 men born in different years, and even when controlling for race and economic background, found that men over 6’0″ were 20% more likely to pursue college degrees than men under 5’9″  (Szklarska et al.).

Now, before you go thinking that height makes a man more intelligent, it’s important to note that the relationship between height and education is associational, not causational. In other words, being taller doesn’t automatically make you smarter, but the association between height and educational attainment means that height can be seen as an indicator of higher education levels.

This can be a problem in the workplace, as education is a key factor in job opportunities and salaries. People with bachelor’s degrees or higher tend to make more money than those with just a high school education. So if an employer is comparing two candidates with identical qualifications, but one happens to be taller, they may be unconsciously influenced to choose the taller candidate based on the association between height and education.


Why does this matter?

This bias can create unfair opportunities for taller men over shorter men, and contribute to the occupational success gap between the two groups. It’s important to recognize that height doesn’t determine a person’s intelligence or ability to succeed, and to strive for fair and unbiased hiring practices in the workplace.

Employers should understand why this bias occurs and work towards creating a more inclusive occupational environment. After all, height is only one characteristic that defines a man, and it shouldn’t prevent shorter men from attaining success in their careers.

While being tall may have its perks in the workforce, success comes in many different shapes and sizes. By recognizing and combating biases, employers can create a more equal and inclusive workplace for all.


Works Cited

“America’s Shrinking Middle Class: A Close Look at Changes within Metropolitan Areas.” Pew Research Center, edited by

Michael Dimock, Pew Charitable Trusts, 11 May 2016,

middle-class-a-close-look-at-changes-within-metropolitan-areas/. Accessed 6 Apr. 2023.

“Body Measurements.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 10 Sept. 2021, Accessed 15 Feb. 2023.\

Dittmann, M. “Standing Tall Pays Off, Study Finds.” American Psychological Association, edited by Harris Cooper, Jasper Simons, Aug. 2004, Accessed 15 Feb. 2023.

Schick, Andreas, and Richard H. Steckel. “Height, Human Capital, and Earnings: The Contributions of Cognitive and Noncognitive Ability.” Journal of Human Capital, vol. 9, no. 1, 2015, pp. 94–115. JSTOR, Accessed 1 Mar. 2023.

Stulp, Gert, et al. “Human Height Is Positively Related to Interpersonal Dominance in Dyadic Interactions.” National Library of Medicine, U.S. National Institutes of Health, 26 Feb. 2015, Accessed 28 Feb. 2023.

Szklarska, Alicja, et al. “Influence of Height on Attained Level of Education in Males at 19 Years of Age.” National Library of Medicine, U.S. National Institutes of Health, 3 Oct. 2006, Accessed 28 Feb. 2023.

Worth, Michelle A., “Perceptions of height, attractiveness, and power” (2004). Theses and Dissertations. 1251.

Yee, Nick, and Jeremy Bailenson. “The Proteus Effect: The Effect of Transformed Self-Representation on Behavior.” Human Communication Research, vol. 33, no. 3, 1 July 2007, pp. 271-90.

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