We instinctively prejudge short people in several ways:
- First, we assume that short people who fail to laugh at a joke made at their expense are defensive and over-sensitive because they have an inferiority complex.
- Second, we assume that short people who act assertively are trying to over-compensate for their size because they have an inferiority complex.
- And third, when short people act timid and quiet, we assume that they do so because they must have an inferiority complex.
Another word people sometimes use for this is Napoleonic, referring to the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Our assumption that short people have an inferiority complex is universal. Like other biases, no one reasons out whether these assumptions are true or valid. Utter lack of knowledge of psychology does not stop us from feeling competent to assess a short person’s psychosocial health and declare a diagnosis about which we know absolutely nothing.
By assuming that all short people have an inferiority complex, we fall prey to a bias that has no basis in fact. It is totally irrational. To the extent that we have any preconceived ideas about their character, such ideas are irrational and harmful.
“Large people’s accomplishments are great works.
Small people’s accomplishments are the result of a neurotic drive to succeed.”
– Mark Moore, professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government
When we wrongfully assume certain character traits based on height, we not only remain ignorant in our own prejudice, but we also contribute to the persistence of the bias in our culture. This disrespect and prejudice against short people remains pervasive and ingrained in our culture.