Height and spatial awHeight and spatial awareness: Who draws the short straw?areness: Who draws the short straw?


BEING able to reach the top shelf in the grocery store isn’t the only benefit of being tall. Research published in the journal Science Advances shows that taller people have better spatial awareness, too.
The number of differences between tall and short people are mounting.
Of course, all animals are equal, but, as George Orwell wrote, some are more equal than others.
One of the most outwardly obvious differences between humans is our height.
A tall person and a short person can be easily told apart without the need for blood tests or genetic sampling.
Because of the highly visible nature of this difference, humans have been interested in the implications of the tall-short conundrum for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
According to a number of studies, taller people earn more money than their shorter counterparts, and taller leaders are judged to be more charismatic than shorter equivalents.
Studies have also found that shorter people have a higher prevalence and greater severity of coronary disease; they also appear to die younger and are more likely to develop open-angle glaucoma.
Height and spatial relations
To add insult to injury, new research from Ohio State University finds that taller people have better spatial relations than shorter folk. In this context, spatial relations refers to an ability to place an object in relation to other objects around it.
The study, using participants of differing heights, measured people’s ability to correctly identify the location of targets in their middle-distance vision, from 3-20 meters away. The researchers were led by Teng Leng Ooi, a professor of optometry at the university.
Our eyes, as incredible as they are, are not sufficient to assess the space and distance around us. The brain is left to fill in the blanks using previous knowledge of similar situations. According to Prof. Ooi, the brain’s task of backfilling spatial information is particularly important in lower light levels.
The study was carried out on 24 participants – half tall (average eye height 173.4 centimeters), half short (average eye height 149.3 centimeters). Both height groups were evenly split between males and females. All participants had normal or corrected-to-normal vision. Each individual was asked to predict the distance of a target in three different settings: Pitch black room with green LED target light Dark room with dimly lit LED markers on the ceiling or floor as reference points. In the dark trials, once the participant had been given the chance to gauge the whereabouts of the target, it was removed, and they were asked to walk to the location where they thought the target had been.

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