News / USA

Tallest Candidate Wins Majority of US Presidential Elections

Latest research affirms our preference for tall leaders

At 185 centimeters - 6'1" - Barack Obama was noticeably taller than his 173-centimeer (5'8") Republican opponent, John McCain, in 2008.
At 185 centimeters - 6'1" - Barack Obama was noticeably taller than his 173-centimeer (5'8") Republican opponent, John McCain, in 2008.

Multimedia

Audio
Ted Landphair

When it comes to voter preference, a candidate’s positions on the issues count. But some may check a name on a ballot for a more primal reason: the candidate’s stature.

Researchers at Texas Tech University suggest that height affects voters’ preference in political leaders, possibly for instinctive reasons going back to caveman days.

The findings were published in the journal Social Science Quarterly by political science professor Gregg Murray and graduate student David Schmitz.

"A near-universal fear of snakes and a preference for unhealthy fatty foods likely evolved from a time when snakes were a common threat and caloric intake was uncertain,” Murray says.  “We believe similar traits exist in politics."

The authors point to what’s called the "big man" tribal leadership of many ancient societies, as well as the impact of physical strength on status in the animal kingdom. And they note that the taller candidate has won 58 percent of U.S. presidential elections between 1789 and 2008.

Abraham Lincoln, at 193 centimeters, was one of our tallest presidents. He loomed over his second opponent, Stephen A. Douglas, who stood just 163 centimeters.
Abraham Lincoln, at 193 centimeters, was one of our tallest presidents. He loomed over his second opponent, Stephen A. Douglas, who stood just 163 centimeters.

The authors asked 467 American and foreign-born college students to draw a figure that represented their concept of a "typical citizen" and an "ideal national leader" before being asked to draw both figures together. Sixty-four percent drew the leader taller than the citizen.

The researchers then asked the students to assess themselves as leaders and potential political candidates. The results revealed a statistically significant association between height and the students’ self-assessment as leaders.

Researcher Schmitz writes that "culture and environment alone cannot explain how a preference for taller leaders is a near-universal trait we see in different cultures today, as well as in societies ranging from ancient Mayans, to pre-classical Greeks and even animals."  

At 185 centimeters - 6'1" - Barack Obama was noticeably taller than his 173-centimeer (5'8") Republican opponent, John McCain, in 2008. But at least two of his potential opponents in 2012 - former governors Rick Perry and Mitt Romney - are as tall, or a little taller, than the president.

You May Like

Photogallery Kyiv: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Weeki
X
August 29, 2014 2:18 AM
The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid