The effect of physical height on workplace success and income: preliminary test of a theoretical model

J Appl Psychol. 2004 Jun;89(3):428-41. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.89.3.428.


In this article, the authors propose a theoretical model of the relationship between physical height and career success. We then test several linkages in the model based on a meta-analysis of the literature, with results indicating that physical height is significantly related to measures of social esteem (rho =.41), leader emergence (rho =.24), and performance (rho =.18). Height was somewhat more strongly related to success for men (rho =.29) than for women (rho =.21), although this difference was not significant. Finally, given that almost no research has examined the relationship between individuals' physical height and their incomes, we present four large-sample studies (total N = 8,590) showing that height is positively related to income (beta =.26) after controlling for sex, age, and weight. Overall, this article presents the most comprehensive analysis of the relationship of height to workplace success to date, and the results suggest that tall individuals have advantages in several important aspects of their careers and organizational lives.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Body Height*
  • Career Mobility*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income*
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Self Concept*
  • Sex Factors