No matter how much fun kids make it look, the literature suggests that life for vertically-challenged men generally falls short. Studies claim that short men are less wealthy, less powerful, less sexually attractive, and generally less happy than everyone else. But being short isn’t all about asking rich, tall women who won’t have sex with you to grab something off a high shelf. There are scientifically-backed upsides to living as a short guy—which all short dudes can reach, no matter their heights.
Your brain receives information faster
According to neuroscientist David Eagleman, it takes less time for sensory information to travel to a short person’s brain, thanks to a process called “temporal binding”. Eagleman explains that the brain receives sensory data from different parts of the body at different speeds, so it synchronizes conflicting messages by defaulting to the slowest processing speed. Which means, for a tall man, a touch on his toe will take longer to travel to his brain, as will other sensory messages.
Eagleman demonstrated this phenomenon with short and tall people on NPR, and was flooded with emails from short fans who felt vindicated. “They were so pleased,” he told The New Yorker. “For about a day, I was the hero of the short people,”
Reduced risk of blood clots
Tall men (six feet and up) are 2.6 times more likely than short men (5’8 and down) to develop venous thromboembolisms, blood clots that start in veins, according to researchers from University of Tromso in Norway who surveyed the heights, weights, and medical records of 27,000 people. But they also found that obese people were more likely to develop these blood clots—yet another reason not to compensate for those missing vertical inches by extending yourself horizontally.
Lower cancer risk
For men, the risk of any type of cancer increases by 11 percent for every 4 inches of height, according to a study conducted by scientists at the University of Stockholm that examined data from 5.5 million people. The study bolstered past findings that linked prostate cancer to height. Some researchers suspect this is because taller people have more cells that could potentially turn cancerous. Or it could have something to do with the growth hormone receptors that help stimulate height (and, alas, tumor growth).
The “Longevity Gene”
A massive longitudinal study published in PLOS One followed 8,006 men of Japanese ancestry and pinpointed a possible “longevity gene”, known as FOXO3. Researchers think this gene leads to smaller body sizes and longer life spans.
The Bigger They Come…
The taller a man is, the harder he hits the ground when he falls. According to some estimates, a 20 percent increase in height translates into twice as much kinetic energy during a fall. Short people are also less likely to suffer from herniated discs. Tall guys may jump higher, but short ones sure know how to take a dive.
Impressive Junk (But Probably Not)
Though a 2015 study in BJU International, found a connection between penis size and height that doesn’t necessary reflect favorably on shorter men, the authors acknowledge that the correlation was consistently weak. There’s little evidence that a man’s height says anything about what’s in his pants. If anything—the shorter you are, the bigger it looks.
More successful romantic relationships
While a cynic would say this is because they don’t have as many options, sociologists from New York University found that shorter men (5’7 and under) were more more likely to be breadwinners and contribute to housework, and that they divorced 32 percent less than average-sized men. Which finally explains how Danny Devito keeps Rhea around.