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The “Napoleon complex” is a term used in psychology to commonly speak of the inferiority complex.
This dysfunction was mentioned for the first time by the Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler, who assured that all children develop feelings of inferiority when surrounded by adults taller and more capable than them.
According to their research, all children feel inferior although not all develop dysfunction.
However, there are many misunderstandings about Napoleon’s complex, including the lingering doubt of whether the French ruler was short.
The British Lance Workman, professor of psychology at the University of South Wales, told the BBC that many people relate this disorder to low people, especially men, who are more aggressive and have a worse temper.
The theory behind this perception is that these individuals compensate for the lack of stature with a stronger personality. For Workman, there is no scientific basis to support it.
“Several studies show that this is just a myth,” said the psychologist.
“When this belief was tested in the laboratory, analyzing high and low men, the data showed just the opposite: tall individuals tend to lose their temper more easily,” he said.
Workman mentioned a characteristic common in the men of short stature that yes support several investigations: the jealousy.
“The lower men were more jealous than the taller ones when their partner talked to other people.”
The scholar concluded that, according to the studies carried out, it can be said that Napoleon’s complex has more to do with being jealous than with being aggressive.
So, do the basses have an inferiority complex?
The social conventions
Workman, a specialist in psychobiology, believes that especially men of short stature may feel discriminated against.
The answer lies in the so-called sexual selection.
“In ancestral times, women preferred taller men, maybe because they were better suppliers or hunters.”
That perception, said the professor, is very difficult to change even though we do not need anyone to go hunting to bring food home.
“Height is associated with a high status and that goes in prejudice of the low ones”.
Vince Graff is a journalist is 1.57 m. That is, 20 cm less than the average of a man in the United Kingdom. Graff told The Why Factor radio about his difficulties finding a partner.
“Height does not tell you anything about how interesting a person is or how good it is in bed, but it’s the first thing others notice about you.”
Graff says that there is this self-imposed complex that took him a long time to understand.
“I do not think being low prevents you from doing things per se, thinking like that is what blocks you.”
Dr. Dror Paley, an orthopedic surgeon who stretches the legs of short people, says the complex chases many for life.
“Even after the operation they still feel low, it does not matter if they are or not.”
Height and money
Tim Frayling, professor of Human Genetics at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, conducted research to find out why height has traditionally been linked to poverty.
Frayling and his team conducted the largest study to date of the relationship between genetics and height.
The result was that, throughout their lives, tall men earn much more than the short ones of the same profession, regardless of education or skills. “
“Our data shows that throughout his life a man of, for example 170 cm, will earn a year US $ 655 less than a 177 cm,” he said.
Frayling commented that this trend is observed throughout the planet. Studies conducted in the United States, Finland and South Korea show how height correlates with the income received by men.
The academic also stressed that there is another pattern that is repeated: the relationship between height and earnings is lower in the case of women.
Women and stature
The sexual selection mentioned by Professor Workman does not apply to women, but it also influences certain jobs.
Isobella Jade dreamed of being a model but is 15 cm shorter than the average professional on the catwalk.
Jade remembered for the BBC how in each casting she felt that all eyes were directed at her, despising her for her height.
“Over time I learned to appreciate other aspects of my body: my feet, my eyes, my hands…”.
Finally, the opportunity came.
“The first job I had was to be a model of feet and then I realized the advantages of being short, my foot fit in many of the specimens that are used as a sample and a small foot looks better in the photos,” he said.
Today she has worked for firms such as underwear brand Victoria Secret.