Male Height Signifies Authority

High and mighty: Height increases authority in professional refereeing

ABSTRACT

Throughout the animal kingdom, larger males are more likely to attain social dominance. Several lines of evidence suggest that this relationship extends to humans, as height is positively related to dominance, status and authority. We hypothesized that height is also a determinant of authority in professional refereeing. According to the International Football Association Board, FIFA, football (“soccer”) referees have full authority to enforce the laws of the game and should use their body language to show authority and to help control the match. We show that height is indeed positively related to authority status: referees were taller than their assistants (who merely have an advisory role) in both a national (French League) and an international (World Cup 2010) tournament. Furthermore, using data from the German League, we found that height was positively associated with authoritative behavior. Taller referees were better able to maintain control of the game by giving fewer fouls, thereby increasing the “flow of the game”. Referee height was also positively associated with perceived referee competence, as taller referees were assigned to matches in which the visiting team had a higher ranking. Thus, height appears to be positively related to authority in professional refereeing.

Of course, as we know, height is a social construct that leads to tall privilege. What we urgently need is to deconstruct the cultural narrative of height paradigms in order to desublimate the existing structure of heightism, launching a new civil rights era for the short.

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5 comments
Unknown says August 26, 2012

From Wikipedia:
“The average height of the 43 men who have been President is 70.8 inches (180 cm). Over time there has been a slightly rising trend in this average, reflecting the increased height of the general U.S. population, although some of the tallest Presidents are from early United States history. The average height of male Americans nationwide in 2005 was 5 ft 9.2 in (69.2 in; 175.8 cm.”

-Steve

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R. Jones says August 26, 2012

“Of course, as we know, height is a social construct that leads to tall privilege. What we urgently need is to deconstruct the cultural narrative of height paradigms in order to desublimate the existing structure of heightism, launching a new civil rights era for the short.”

It’s not so much a social construct as a widespread irrational bias with a basis in biology. Short people are disadvantaged for pretty irrational prejudices, given our modern environment. Contrast this with blacks, who are disadvantaged mostly because of their lower IQ, and therefore prejudice against them would be quite rational. Anti-heightism is a more worthy cause than anti-racism.

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dearieme says August 26, 2012

“The average height of male Americans nationwide in 2005 was 5 ft 9.2 in (69.2 in; 175.8 cm.”

How do they know?

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Anonymous says August 28, 2012

Perhaps players think that taller referees can simply see more on the field, and, as a consequence, curtail their abuse of the opposing team.

Anon.

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Nah says August 29, 2012

@ R Jones,

It is not irrational not to follow someone who is short, since most other people will think the short guy lacks authority. If you follow him you are attaching yourself to a weak horse.

If shorter guys are not genetically programmed to yield to taller guys, then they soon learn this behavior. Follow the shorter guy and you are following someone who has spent a lifetime yielding to more dominant taller guys. This pattern is likely to apply even in “modern” (non-physical) situations.

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