If Mitt Romney wins next week’s presidential election, it may be not be because of his brain and his policies. It may be because of his body. And because of body language.
The debates with Barack Obama revealed two things about Mitt Romney that have nothing to do with logic and everything to do with instinct. First, off, Romney (6’2”) is taller than Obama (6’1”). Height is a powerful motivator of your emotional self, your self below the floorboards of consciousness. Studies in social psychology have consistently revealed that we rate tall people higher in IQ , we pay them higher starting salaries (every inch in height produces $6,000 in income), and if we are female, we swoon over them far more eagerly. What does this have to do with politics? Writes the master of social psychology, Elliot Aronson, "In the overwhelming majority of American presidential elections, the taller of the two major candidates has won."
Is our secret love of height rational? Far from it. But it may have been useful in our hunter-gatherer days. Why? The tallest person in the tribe usually got that way through superior nutrition and a host of other advantages. Which means that his parents were likely to have been at the top of the tribe’s pecking order, the tribe’s hierarchy. So the tallest person in the tribe is likely to have been born into power and privilege. He is also likely to have been handed the best high-level contacts and to have been taught the lessons of authority from birth. What’s more, the tallest person has advantages over his comrades in war with another tribe. In battle, he stands out as a giant. That makes him a target. But it also marks him out as someone you would not want to confront in face to face combat.