We want our big politicians, who have to make big decisions, to be the ‘big men,’ according to new research that claims politicians blessed with height and physical prowess have an advantage over their diminutive rivals.
In a U.S.-based study, psychologists suggest this caveman political leaning may stem from an evolutionary desire since ancient times for physically dominant leaders who could triumph over adversaries.
“Some traits and instincts that may have been acquired through evolution continue to manifest themselves in modern life,” said lead author Prof. Gregg Murray of Texas Tech University. “A near universal fear of snakes and a preference for fatty foods likely evolved from when snakes were a common threat and caloric intake was uncertain. We believe similar traits exist in politics."
Murray’s team asked U.S. college students to draw an ideal leader and ordinary citizen. The majority of students (64 per cent) drew a national leader who was taller than their average citizen. Only 31 per cent sketched a regular Joe as the taller figure.
Murray also learned from the students there was a large association between height and perceived leadership qualities and interest in running for political office.
“Our research and the literature demonstrates that there is a preference for physically formidable leaders that likely reflects an evolved psychological trait, independent of any cultural conditioning,” Murray concluded.
- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – 157cm (5'2)
- Kim Jong il - 160cm (5'3)
- Dmitry Medvedev – 163cm(5'4)
- Nicolas Sarkozy - 165cm (5'5)
- Silvio Berlusconi - 165cm (5'5)
- Josef Stalin – 165cm (5'5)
- Winston Churchill - 168cm (5'6)
- Napoleon - 168cm (5'6)
- Barack Obama – 185cm (6'1)
- Stephen Harper – 188cm(6'2)
- Bill Clinton– 188cm (6'2)
- David Cameron – 185cm (6'1)
- Fidel Castro– 190cm (6'3)
- Abraham Lincoln – 193cm(6'4)
- Charles de Gaulle – 196cm (6'5)
- Peter the Great – 201cm (6'7)