Being short and experiencing the world from an angle of reduced height can make a person feel vulnerable, inferior, and mistrustful and increase their paranoia, according to new research.
For their study, scientists at Oxford University had 60 women wear virtual reality helmets in which they took two different simulated subway rides. In one ride, the height was lowered by 30 centimeters, which affected the woman's perspective. Researchers did not tell the women about the height change. In a questionnaire following the experiment, the women reported feeling more paranoid and less secure during the ride in which they were shorter.
"When you are lower down than normal, it makes you feel more inferior to other people, and that I think makes you feel more vulnerable, and that's what leads you to see hostility where there isn't any," said Daniel Freeman, a professor of clinical psychology who led the study.
However, according to researchers, the findings aren't meant to suggest that all short people are paranoid, but rather, that reducing someone's height in social situations leads to "greater levels of paranoia."