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Taller People Earn More: What Can 'Shorties' Do About It?

Should we all be wearing high heels?

By Susie KearleyPublished 2 years ago 3 min read
(c) Susie Kearley

When a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology reported that taller people earned more than shorter people, the news left a lot of shorter people, like me, feeling mildly peeved.

But there’s a growing body of research that supports this trend, with four large studies, from the US, Australia and the UK, all drawing the same conclusions — that taller people earn more money.

In response to one such study, the American Psychological Association said: “The findings suggest that someone who is 6 feet tall earns, on average, nearly $166,000 more during a 30-year career than someone who is 5 feet 5 inches — even when controlling for gender, age and weight.”

Perhaps that explains why my 6ft ‘little sister’ has been so successful in her career. Her confidence probably helps, too.

So should us ‘shorties’ be wearing high heels to the office to improve our perceived value and promotability? Please no!

Why do taller people earn more?

Theories abound as to why taller people earn more money. Some of the researchers suggested that taller people might be more confident than shorter people, because they’re used to looking down on people (literally), and they’re used to people looking up to them.

The authors also suggested that taller people might be seen as more commanding, and therefore better leaders and managers.

There might be a gender bias too: men tend to be taller than women on average, and typically they earn more. Some studies adjusted for gender bias, but not all of them. Some males have substantial egos. And people with a lot of confidence typically present themselves as more capable at work and at interviews.

Attractiveness helps!

What about other things that affect your earnings potential? An earlier study showed that overweight women earned less than their slim counterparts. And physically attractive people earnt more than people described as ‘plain’.

Shorter, well rounded, plain folk, might be feeling a bit put out by now.

So what can we do about it? Pile on the make up? Wear high heels? Go on a diet? Maybe, but I think the real key is confidence.

Confidence makes people more attractive

Confidence is attractive to other people, whether you’re looking for a job, a promotion, a partner, or even just friends. People are drawn to those who are confident.

That might sound like a blow if you’re shy and lack self-belief, but trying to develop self-confidence is far more beneficial than wearing uncomfortable shoes or hiding behind make up. How can you grow in confidence if you’re not a naturally confident person?

How to develop confidence

• Stylistic things like clothes and makeup might help you feel more confident, but only if you’re comfortable.

• Focus on your strengths and skills. This can help you to see your true value and potential.

• Dial down that internal dialogue that doubts your ability to do things well. Easier said than done? Sure. But focusing on your strengths, and developing new ones can certainly help to build confidence in your own capabilities.

• Get experience, so you have confidence in new areas that you’d like to develop. Whether you do this by volunteering, or by working closely with a colleague on a project, new experiences can bring out new strengths and give you confidence.

• Praise yourself when things go well. Recognise that it’s an achievement, and continue to focus on your strengths, while working on weaker areas.

• Developing confidence and self-belief isn’t easy, but if you work on it, greater self-esteem will come.

• The bottom line is, you can’t do anything about your height, but perhaps if you’re able to grow in confidence, in due course, your confident attitude might help advance your career.

And even if it doesn’t, developing personal confidence can help you grow as a person, and have positive social relationships. That’s got to be a good thing.

(c) Susie Kearley


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