Napoleon Complex Myth

Napoleon complex (also, Napoleon syndrome or Small Man syndrome) is a colloquial pejorative term used to describe a type of inferiority complex which is said to affect people who are short. The term is also used more generally to describe people who are driven by a perceived handicap to overcompensate in other aspects of their lives. In 2007, research by the University of Central Lancashire in England produced evidence that the Napoleon complex is a myth. The study discovered that short men (below 5 foot 5 inches) were less likely to lose their temper than men of average height. The experiment involved subjects dueling each other with sticks, with one subject deliberately rapping the other’s knuckles. Heart monitors revealed that the taller men were more likely to lose their tempers and hit back. The lead researcher concluded, “The results were consistent with the view that Small Man Syndrome is a myth.”

Actually Napoleon Bonaparte was a little above average for his time (1.68 m or 5,6), even if this doesn’t necessarily mean he didn’t want to be taller.

Image through Totally Severe.

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  1. Johan,

    Indeed a myth :

    Napoleon introduced a metric system (we owe him a lot) but made the mistake to keep the same names for the units. He therefore seemed shorter to the enemy and laughed at propaganda-wise (reading your text, it still works).

    French feet after revolution were larger than the foot system we use now, as such, Napoleon was measured as 5 ft 2 in French Revolution feet— HOWEVER, 5 ft 2 french feet translated over to something like 5′6.5″ standard feet.

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