People who feel short less likely to trust others…

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

train sim
The view from the participant’s perspective in the virtual train ride.

Researchers from the University of Oxford found that people who don’t trust others easily are even less likely to do so if they feel short. According to the researchers, this shows that individuals are mistrustful mostly because they have negative feelings about themselves; if they had more self-confidence, they could rely on others more.

In order to show this, the researchers placed 60 women prone to have ‘mistrustful thoughts’ in 2 different virtual train rides. On both rides, fellow passengers were programmed to be neutral – not strike fear into participants. However, train riders were programmed to be about a head taller in the second ride when compared to the first.

Most participants didn’t notice the height differences consciously. However, they were more likely to report feeling threatened or paranoid on the second train ride when compared to the first.

Additionally, the study subjects said they felt incompetent (unskilled) and inferior when riding with the taller passengers. They were also more likely to think someone was starting to upset them on the second ride, even though the passengers were programmed to be neutral. The researchers believe these feelings come from a lack of confidence and are already planning a separate study to test this proposal. These current findings will be used to treat extremely paranoid people.

Featured image courtesy of Asia Society on Flickr. Image of virtual train ride courtesy of the Medical Research Council on YouTube.