Statesmen and stature: how tall are our world leaders?
Last year we were told stature really does matter according to a scientific paper published in Social Science Quarterly.
It was an opportunity too good to pass up so we compared the heights of various leaders from different countries and eras. Now we have a new leader in the pack we’re asking once again how tall really are our leaders? We’ve also compared them to the average height of statesmen of their country over the last 40 years.
At 5ft 7ins, Hollande is two inches taller than Sarkozy but also two inches shorter than the average height for French leaders of the past 40 years. Both David Cameron and Barack Obama beat the average height, standing tall at 6ft 1. As the first female Chancellor of Germany, it’s not suprising that Angela Merkel stands 5 inches shorter than the average height for German leaders.
In the scientific paper published last year psychologists from Texas Tech University found in a study that almost two-thirds of participants showed a preference to draw larger figures when asked to draw images of leaders. An evolutionary throwback has been suggested as the root of this. Nic Fleming wrote:
It is not for nothing that top politicians are known as political giants or “big beasts”. Voters see tall politicians as better suited for leadership, according to a survey of how people visualise their leaders. Psychologists believe the bias may stem from an evolved preference for physically imposing chiefs who could dominate enemies.
Cameron, Obama and Hollande have all beaten shorter candidates in past elections – Gordon Brown at 5ft 11ins, John McCain at 5ft 8ins and Sarkozy at 5ft 5ins.
The work, published by Dr Gregg Murray and J. David Schmitz, found evidence that would suggest physical stature affects people’s preferences for political leadership. The paper entitled ‘Caveman Politics’ on evolutionary psychology relates it back to ideas and beliefs gleaned from our prehistoric ancestors.
Well, apart from Cameron, Obama and Canada’s Stephen Harper who all come in at over six foot there are some current political leaders who are rather more diminutive. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is placed at somewhere around the 5ft 2ins mark.
America certainly seem to be following the rule with all but one of the US presidents in our list coming in at six foot or over. The UK have rather a mixed bag from Margaret Thatcher (5ft 5ins) and Winston Churchill (5ft 6ins) to Robert Gascoyne-Cecil who is believed to have been 6ft 4ins.
The table below shows a selection of world leaders, past and present, and their stature. Those in bold are current leaders.
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• This article was amended on 7 February 2014 to remove a duplication of François Hollande in the table and spreadsheet which incorrectly named him as a German leader as well as the current President of France.
|Name||Height, Cm||Height, Feet and inches (rounded to nearest)||Country (leader of )|
|Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner||164||5’4||Argentina|
|Julia Eileen Gillard||166||5’5||Australia|
|Valéry Giscard d’Estaing||189||6’2||France|
|Charles de Gaulle||196||6’5||France|
|David Ben Gurion||152||5’0||Israel|
|Kim Yong Ill||160||5’3||Korea (North)|
|Sir Alec Douglas-Home||185||6’1||UK|
|Queen Elizabeth II||163||5’4||UK|
|George W. Bush||182||5’11||USA|
|John F Kennedy||183||6’0||USA|
|George H.W Bush||188||6’2||USA|
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