Knapen, J. E., Blaker, N. M., & Van Vugt, M. (2018). The Napoleon complex: When shorter men take more. Psychological Science, 1-11. DOI: 10.1177/0956797618760196

pdf button

 

Abstract

Inspired by an evolutionary psychological perspective on the Napoleon complex, we hypothesize that shorter males

 

are more likely to show indirect aggression in resource competitions with taller males. Three studies provide support

 

for our interpretation of the Napoleon complex. Our pilot study shows that men (but not women) keep more resources

 

for themselves when they feel small. When paired with a taller male opponent (Study 1), shorter men keep more

 

resources to themselves in a game in which they have all the power (Dictator) versus a game in which the opponent

 

also has some power (Ultimatum). Furthermore, shorter men are not more likely to show direct, physical aggression

 

toward a taller opponent (Study 2). As predicted by the Napoleon complex, we conclude that (relatively) shorter

 

men show greater behavioral flexibility in securing resources when presented with cues that they are physically less

 

competitive. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

 

 

Go To Top