Strange But True: Malcolm Gladwell On Why Size Really Does Matter

Phil Dourado's picture

Have you noticed that bosses tend to be taller than the people they boss? 

Here’s a funny-but-true tale from Malcolm Gladwell’s clever book, Blink, that offers a partial explanation:

Blink - Malcolm Gladwell“Have you ever wondered why so many mediocrities find their way into positions of authority in companies and organizations? It's because when it comes to even the most important positions, we think that our selection decisions are a good deal more rational than they actually are. We see a tall person, and we swoon.

Not long ago, researchers went back and analyzed the data from four large research studies that had followed thousands of people from birth to adulthood, and calculated that when corrected for variables like age and gender and weight, an inch of height is worth $789 a year in salary. That means that a person who is six foot tall, but who is otherwise identical to someone who is 5 foot five, will make on average $5,525 more per year.

As Timothy Judge, one of the authors of the study, points out: ‘If you take this over the course of a 30-year career and compound it, we're talking about a tall person enjoying literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of earnings advantage.’.”

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Extracted from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink. My favourite quote from Blink is the woman interviewed at a speed dating event in an attempt to analyze gut decisions. Asked at what point did she decide the person she had just spoken to was not a prospective romantic partner, she replied: "He lost me at 'Hello'."