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The long and short of it

india Updated: Apr 02, 2007 00:03 IST
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Hark all ye men who are short in stature: researchers have finally raised a big hurrah for those of ye who squirm every time the term ‘small man syndrome’ is mentioned. The so-called ‘Napoleon complex’ — which misleads people into believing that small men are also angry men — has now been disproved. Research by scientists from the University of Central Lancashire establishes that, on average, a tall man is more likely to become the aggressor in a conflict situation than his shorter brethren.

Ten men below 1.65m and another ten of average height were paired at random to take part in a chopstick game, where they had to use wooden sticks to duel each other across tables. When some of them were deliberately hit on the knuckles, heart monitors attached showed that taller men reacted more aggressively to the provocation. These findings tie in earlier US studies that found that taller than average toddlers are more aggressive at age 11, and more likely to resort to violence in adulthood. There’s a critical period in development — between the ages of three and 11 — when a child learns to use physical advantage to aggressive ends. Which is why doctors advise parents of tall kids to take extra care to drive home the message that there are many better ways than physical force to get what you want in life.

In any case, height is not the only criterion that makes you trigger-happy. Haven’t scientists proven that the more asymmetry in body parts — like, say, one ear, index finger, or foot being bigger than the other — the more likely one is to becoming aggressive? As for being tall, who can deny the advantages of height when trying to dunk a basketball, swim a lap, or run a 200-metre dash faster?

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