Friday, 14 February 2014

Heightism, the Just-World Hypothesis, and Survivorship Bias

Whenever a short man airs his grievances about any aspect of life, somebody will always jump in with a lecture blaming short men themselves for their troubles. "You didn't try hard enough, you have a bad personality, etc."

Can you see what's going on? Here's a good explanation I found:
"Height presents a major problem with what most people consciously and subconsciously believe in: a just-world fallacy. You can't control your height, so they have to work extra mental gymnastics to justify why the problems you have due to your height are not in fact due to your height, but your attitude. That way they can believe it is your fault you suffer, the world is just, and their cognitive dissonance goes away." - Source
More on the just-world hypothesis:
"The assumption that a person's actions are inherently inclined to bring morally fair and fitting consequences to that person, to the end of all noble actions being eventually rewarded and all evil actions eventually punished. In other words, the just-world hypothesis is the tendency to attribute consequences to—or expect consequences as the result of—a universal force that restores moral balance."
Also related is Surviorship Bias:
Whether it be movie stars, or athletes, or musicians, or CEOs of multibillion-dollar corporations who dropped out of school, popular media often tells the story of the determined individual who pursues their dreams and beats the odds. There is much less focus on the many people that may be similarly skilled and determined but fail to ever find success because of factors beyond their control or other (seemingly) random events. This creates a false public perception that anyone can achieve great things if they have the ability and make the effort. The overwhelming majority of failures are not visible to the public eye, and only those who survive the selective pressures of their competitive environment are seen regularly.
People love pointing out short men who are successful socially, romantically, or financially. This ignores the adage of "life isn't fair." People love to believe life is cut out evenly. If there's something for this short man, there must be something for that short man. Wrong. While we should all strive to be at our best, we must also not be unrealistic. Karma isn't real. More importantly, we must be careful with where we assign blame.

As one Dr. Berscheid says:
"Genetic determinism is anathema to Americans, who want to believe everyone is born equal, with an equal chance for a happy life,'' Dr. Berscheid remarked in an interview here. ''It's simply not so. The most important factors governing success in life are genetically determined: appearance, intelligence, sex and height.''

"There is a hazard inherent in denying the impact of physical attractiveness: ''Unattractive children who are unpopular may wrongly attribute their lack of popularity to some flaw in their character or personality,'' she says. Such an error, she believes, could result in lasting and painful scars."

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