Cumulative Default Yielding Response

People continue to grow taller despite the fact that physical dominance is no longer an evident evolutionary advantage and is not very cost-effective. Archaic biological systems have been replaced by confused growth-obsessed cultural values. Despite the evidence that in Western societies being tall continues to be positively related to social status in both men and women, the proximate mechanisms underpinning this phenomenon remain relatively obscure. According to Gert Stulp one potential explanation is that taller individuals are more likely to win a dyadic confrontation with a competitor. In the old days the big bully would get his way. But how did archaic confrontational outcomes turn into widespread contemporary social behaviour where all actors, big and small, continue to play outdated roles. Dominance in the animal kingdom is defined as ‘an attribute of the pattern of repeated, agonistic interactions between two individuals, characterized by a consistent outcome in favour of the same dyad member and a default yielding response of its opponent rather than escalation’. The form and function of such confrontations can be as diverse as the society in which they occur. Although the advantage of winning one confrontation may be small, the cumulative effect of many such advantages creates a default response that facilitates their further rise. Rather then seek confrontation the smaller individual already moves out of the way. They clear the space for the bigger individual to take center stage and are, to a large extent, responsible for the perception of tallness as a success-formula since they are the ones facilitating their ascend rather then the tall having to compete for it. Height-dependent perceptions only contribute to greater dominance of taller individuals if shorter individuals act on their perceptions, and treat those who are taller as more competent, authoritative, and dominant than they are. So they shouldn’t, because they aren’t. In fact, if we agree that a smaller human species is preferred, it’s time men, both big and small, redesign their default behaviour.

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