The Effect of Physical Height on Workplace Success and Income: Preliminary Test of a Theoretical Model

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
Journal of Applied Psychology (Impact Factor: 4.31). 07/2004; 89(3):428-41. DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.89.3.428
Source: PubMed


In this article, the authors propose a theoretical model of the relationship between physical height and career success. We then test several linkages in the model based on a meta-analysis of the literature, with results indicating that physical height is significantly related to measures of social esteem (rho =.41), leader emergence (rho =.24), and performance (rho =.18). Height was somewhat more strongly related to success for men (rho =.29) than for women (rho =.21), although this difference was not significant. Finally, given that almost no research has examined the relationship between individuals' physical height and their incomes, we present four large-sample studies (total N = 8,590) showing that height is positively related to income (beta =.26) after controlling for sex, age, and weight. Overall, this article presents the most comprehensive analysis of the relationship of height to workplace success to date, and the results suggest that tall individuals have advantages in several important aspects of their careers and organizational lives.

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Available from: Daniel M. Cable, Jun 05, 2014
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    • "It is generally believed that taller people are seen to be more attractive and persuasive. Recent studies have hoped to confirm this suggestion, withJudge and Cable (2004)assessing the impact of height on success at work and salary. They suggest firstly that height is related to social esteem or the status ascribed to individuals. "
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    • "Consistent with these differences between strength and height, the observed associations of height with status outcomes diverge in some important ways from the logic of our hypotheses. For example, height appears to be positively associated with perceived intelligence, perceived leadership ability, and actual occupational success among both men and women (Blaker et al., 2013; Blaker & Van Vugt, 2014; Judge & Cable, 2004; Murray & Schmitz, 2011). Our hypotheses regarding formidability-based status allocation only predict certain of these associations. "
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    • "This legitimacy, however, may not always be beneficial in terms of leading performance if leader's demographic features are in question solely. Features such as gender (Eagly et al. 1995; Thompson 2000) and height or age (Judge and Cable 2004; Stogdill 1974) are not always related to leadership effectiveness. An interesting event is that some scholars have tried to step out the legitimacy issue entirely while considering leader emergence. "
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