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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid