Given enough power, even the shortest man or woman in the world can feel like the tallest. After all, according to a new study published in the journal Psychological Science, people who feel powerful see themselves to be taller than they really are.

This physical aspect of power, though fascinating, seems to provide more questions than answers. At the moment, the idea is presented in simple terms. "For people who are less powerful, maybe other people and objects loom larger, and for the powerful everything else just seems smaller," says Jack A. Goncalo of Cornell University, who co-wrote the paper with Michelle M. Duguid of Washington University.

In the study, researchers recruited subjects who came to the lab in pairs. After being measured for their height and answering a leadership aptitude test, they were told that they would be playing the role of either manager or employee depending on the results of the aptitude test. The results, however, were faked and the roles were randomly assigned. Afterward, the participants were asked to fill out a simple questionnaire that asked about personal particulars such as eye color and height.


Results revealed that those who played the role of the employee more or less answered their true height. Those who played the role of manager, however, reported a measurement that was higher than their actual height.

The findings provide an interesting angle on power play. If you feel taller when you feel more powerful, then would wearing heels to add to your height make you feel more powerful? It is a question that requires more study, but that doesn't mean you can't experiment on your own. In the end, it's how you carry and present yourself that matters, however, so try straightening your back and marching confidently into the meeting room the next time you have a presentation. It might make you feel taller--and more powerful too.

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(Photo by jenjenpr via Flickr Creative Commons)

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