October 19, 2011
We like our presidents tall, it seems. And now researchers think they know why, saying leftover caveman instincts draw us toward strong and mighty (or tall) leaders who we view as able to protect us.
"Some traits and instincts that may have been acquired through evolution continue to manifest themselves in modern life, seemingly irrationally," study researcher Gregg R. Murray of Texas Tech University said in a statement, adding that our fear of snakes, for instance, likely evolved from a time when snakes were a common threat.
"We believe similar traits exist in politics," he said.
Murray, along with Texas Tech graduate student J. David Schmitz, credited the "presidential height index" — a popular observation that taller candidates have won 58 percent of U.S. presidential elections between 1789 and 2008 — as piquing their interest in the role that height plays in leader selection.