Over 500,000 people visited Farnam Street last month to expand their knowledge and improve their thinking. Work smarter, not harder with our free weekly newsletter that's full of time-tested knowledge you can add to your mental toolbox.
In three experiments, we tested the prediction that individuals’ experience of power influences their perceptions of their own height. High power, relative to low power, was associated with smaller estimates of a pole’s height relative to the self (Experiment 1), with larger estimates of one’s own height (Experiment 2), and with choice of a taller avatar to represent the self in a second-life game (Experiment 3). These results emerged regardless of whether power was experientially primed (Experiments 1 and 3) or manipulated through assigned roles (Experiment 2). Although a great deal of research has shown that more physically imposing individuals are more likely to acquire power, this work is the first to show that powerful people feel taller than they are. The discussion considers the implications for existing and future research on the physical experience of power.