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Monday 21st May 2018

Tall people 'live better lives'

14th September 2009

According to a new US study, people who are tall end up more satisfied with life than people who are short.


They were more likely to judge their lives in a favourable light, and reported a higher incidence of happiness.

For the purposes of the study, the researchers conducted telephone interviews with 454,000 adults.

The adults answered questions about their height, and were asked to make subjective statements about their lives.

The researchers concluded that taller people had more positive things to report about their lives because they were better educated and had higher incomes.

The scale used for the purposes of measuring peoples' satisfaction with life was the Cantril scale, which requires study participants to imagine a ladder with eleven rungs.

Patients are asked to rank their lives on a scale of one to ten, with the lowest rung of the ladder representing zero and the highest representing 10.

In the Cantril scale, the highest rung of the ladder represents the best possible life a person can imagine having.

The Cantril method allows researchers to ask where they felt they currently ranked among all the possibilities they could imagine for themselves.

Male satisfaction showed significant variation for a cutoff point just under 1.8 metres in height.

Men below 1.77 metres, which is the average height for a man, tallied more than one rung lower in terms of overall well being.

The average height for a woman is about 1.6 metres.

Surprisingly, women ranked themselves higher as a group than men did, and had less of a spread overall.

The difference between women above average height and women below average height was less than one tenth of a rung on the Cantril scale.

However, the results of the study also revealed that some people who are shorter are happier than taller people, on average.

Angus Deaton of Princeton University, one member of the research team, said that people who say that their lives are the 'best possible' are slightly shorter on average than those who are a step or two below.

He said that the 8% of people who think their lives cannot be improved are different in other respects.

In terms of an emotional assessment of well being, both taller men and women were less likely to report experiencing pain and sadness, and more likely to report experiencing happiness.

And while taller men worry less than other men do, taller women do not worry less than shorter women.

Chartered psychologist Colin Gill said that many surveys had already shown that there was no direct correlation between income and happiness, though there did appear to be a correlation between height and happiness and height and income.

However, he said that people looking at the recent study would note that the people who were happiest were not the very tallest, and that there is a threshold between 195.6 cm and 198.1 cm.

In other words, people who are so tall as to appear abnormal may lead very difficult lives.

Gill said that when people are children they come to associate height with the adults who look after them, and that people do not often stop linking height with authority or seniority.

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