Short people are 'more likely to be psychopaths' – especially if they envy tall people

Are short men more likely to be psychopaths? (Getty Images)
Are short men more likely to be psychopaths? (Getty Images)

Short people are more likely to have 'dark triad' personality traits such as psychopathy, a study has shown.

And short people who envy tall people are more likely to have such traits, according to the research published in the Personality and Individual Differences journal.

Further, if they are unhappy about their height, they are more likely to engage in unpleasant behaviour due to their dissatisfaction with it.

The so-called dark triad of personality traits include narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. Narcissists have an inflated sense of themselves, psychopaths lack remorse and empathy and are impulsive, while Machiavellian people are manipulative and without morals.

The researchers said their study suggested that people might adopt these traits in response to an unfortunate part of their lives – in this case, being too short.

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Peter K Jonason, of the University of Padua and The Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw, told PsyPost: "One of the reasons these traits have become so popular to study is the contention that they might be adaptive – albeit socially undesirable – solutions to attaining status/mates/survival calibrated on both dispositional features like the ability to compete and the context one grew up in (especially) and one’s current circumstances (less so)."

The scientists recruited 367 adults and used a standard assessment of dark triad traits and then asked the respondents how much they agreed with the statement "I wish I were taller".

They found that short people and people who wished to be taller exhibited dark triad traits.

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Jonason said: "Shorter people, especially those who wish they were taller, are more characterised by traits that are likely to make them show-off, be confrontational, and interested in power.

"We expected these relationships to be stronger in men given evolutionary and Freudian considerations but we found only scant evidence for differentiation of these correlations by sex.

"The most pertinent issue would be to better calibrate tests based on relative heights in one's area. This would get a sense of the magnitude of the effect as it diverges from the local average. It is the local milieu more than national averages that will set people's adaptive responses."

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