The Tall Bias and Other Genetic Setbacks

It’s no secret that the way we look heavily influences our life. It can determine whether we get a job or a promotion, which friends and partners we attract, and even which hobbies and interests we choose. But to what extent are we at the mercy of our genetic disposition?

Consider the following three areas:

  • Career

  • Relationships

  • Health


Career

A study conducted by the University of Florida demonstrated that tall people earn close to $800 more per inch per year. Over the course of a lifetime, that adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell presents an interesting finding about this so-called tall bias. He says that in the U.S. only 14.5% of all men are over 6 feet tall; however, 58% of the top CEOs in America are over 6 feet tall. What’s more, 3.9% of American men are 6’2” or taller, but nearly 30% of all CEOs in the Fortune 500 index are 6’2” or taller. What this shows is either tall people are better for the job, or merely perceived to be better.

If you are of an ethnic minority, chubby, or a woman, your success is hindered just as much as if you are short.

There is a self-fulfilling phenomenon that takes place with tall good-looking people, which is self-confidence. This comes from years of being treated as special. Over time, you begin to develop yourself in ways that truly does separate you from the pack. Tall people for instance are generally looked upon as smart, honest, strong, a leader… so naturally they tend to take on those characteristics.


Relationships

Picking a person based a looks is almost always a bad idea. The reason is because there are much more relevant factors in forming a lasting relationship than looks alone.

A former roommate of mine arguably fit into the top 1% of attractive people on the planet, among the likes of Brad Pitt or Leonardo DiCaprio. He had no problem getting women and would often bring them by the apartment.

What was interesting was watching him interact with these women. He was awkward and unfunny to say the least. Nevertheless, the women didn’t seem to mind. These same qualities on a less attractive man would be otherwise unacceptable, but with him they were somehow tolerated… for a while.

It occurred to me that in his entire life, he had gotten so far on his looks alone, that his personality was seriously underdeveloped.

A case in point is season 11 & 15 of The Bachelor. Brad Womack is a really tall, successful, good-looking guy who is unable to find a woman. He has been so unsuccessful that he has been on two seasons of the Bachelor and still came up short. Why?

The reason is because he is a dud. If you watch him interact with women, he’s neither charming, funny, or charismatic. Much like my former roommate, his looks only got him so far. Every woman on that show was swooning for him at first, but in the end he was left lonely, time and time again.

Considering the staggering divorce rates, is it possible that people are falling victim to the Brad Womack effect? People generally find suitable mates based on looks first, and then try to work around all that pesky stuff like personality and compatibility later. Over time, once the looks wane, or the novelty of the looks wane, they become intolerant of each other.

While people who use online dating sites still select potential mates based on looks, there is much more information available than traditional methods of meeting partners. With online dating, you get to pair up based on mutual interests, education, and cultural values. My guess is that if more and more people pick their partners based on suitability rather than proximity, relationships will be stronger and last longer.


Health

Our genetics largely determine our body type as well. Although this might seem obvious to some, it may not be for the skinny guy lifting weights and drinking countless protein shakes in an effort to bulk up like Brock Lesnar.

If you are spending lots of money on expensive fitness equipment, or putting in hours at the gym and not getting the results you want, consider following three body types:

Ectomorph

  • Skinny
  • Long limbs
  • Narrow shoulders
  • Lean muscles

Endomorph

  • Round
  • Short
  • Soft
  • Very little muscular definition

Mesomorph

  • Muscular
  • Square or rectangular-shaped body
  • Generally hard body
  • Well defined muscles

Knowing your body type becomes relevant to know what your strengths and limitations are. As it is always a good idea to be healthy, it is also a good idea to not waste time and money on something that was not meant to be.

Given how much value our society places on looks (subconsciously or not), is it a good idea for parents to try to alter their kid’s genetics through cosmetic surgery, growth hormones, or gene manipulation?

Article by Edward Mullen

Author of The Art of the Hustle and Destiny and Free Will

Host of The Edward Mullen Podcast

www.EdwardMullen.com

 

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