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Inspired living

Tall people have better spatial awareness


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Randy Newman was a touch harsh when he sang, “Short people got no reason to live”. Yes, the evidence from the research is that tall people earn more money, are judged as more charismatic and live longer. Those kind of bald statistics don’t adequately account for every person’s experience of life but unfortunately a new study has added to the advantages that tall people may possess over shorter people.

The new study was carried out on subjects who were classified into two groups; one group classed as “tall” with an average eye height of 173.4 cm and the other classed as “short” with an average eye height of 149.3 cm. Both groups were evenly comprised of males and females. All of the subjects had normal or corrected-to-normal vision.

For the study the researchers asked each subject to predict the distance to a target object in three different circumstances; full light, a pitch black room with a green LED target light, a dark room with dimly lit target markers on the ceiling or floor as reference points.

The results showed that the taller people were much more accurate in estimating distance to a target than shorter people. This suggests that taller people have a better sense of where things are in space.

As a further study the researchers then had the tall people perform the tasks while sitting on a chair and the shorter people did it while standing on a box. However, this “evening out” of the height from which the subjects viewed the target objects did not change the results: people who were taler still did better.

The researchers think this might be because a taller person’s accumulated lifetime experience of being tall and interacting with ground-based objects from a greater height, endows them with a permanent advantage in terms of spatial awareness.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that Randy Newman was right but if you want to find something in a darkened room, ask a tall person.

Source: Science Advances



 

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the editor-in-chief of WellBeing.