Big Shot

A big shot is an informal adjective to describe an important person in an organization. When we say “big” we don’t mean they are physically big or tall.  But some new research suggests that people who are big shots really do think they’re bigger!

In a recent study, scientists measured the height (how tall someone is) of 100 male and female college students.  Then they gave them a test that (the researchers said) measured (indicated; showed) how much ability they had to be a leader (boss; manager). Finally, they asked students to role-play (pretend) that they were either managers or employees.

The students were assigned (put into a group) randomly (by chance) to play either a manager or an employee.  They were told that they were put into the manager or employee group based on (because of) their score on the leadership test, but in fact, their assignment wasn’t related to that score at all.

After they were assigned to a group, the students were then asked to give their own height.  There was no actual (real) difference in height between the two groups.  The employees gave their correct height, but the managers said that they were taller than they actually were!

Our perception (the way we see something) of ourselves psychologically is, according to the researchers, related to how we view ourselves physically.  Does this mean that if I imagine myself as being 20 years younger, I will be able to grow my hair back?


Photo Credit: Robert Wadlow, 1918; Wikipedia PD

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24 Responses to Big Shot

  1. Dan says:

    Why? did yoy have hair 20 years ago?
    Please Mr. Jeff post a picture when you had hair. Plllease! just kidding

  2. Dan says:

    I do not know why, but this piece makes me think about those folks that just because they drive bigger cars like SUVs or similar,
    they can do whatever they want on the roads.

    Anyway, I find this kind of research on how our brain works really facinating.

  3. Peter says:

    Dear Jeff,
    I didn’t get the point of the survey.
    If they try to prove people who are taller have a better chance of getting jobs. Well,it is conclusively proved already,althought ,I don’t Belive it.
    I m a living example of it.
    I am 6.3 still have problems landing a descent job.
    I have set of tradable skills ,I have the credential requirement ,but ,let’s face it : bad economy does not give a damn how tall you are.
    I guess ,they must correct the outcome by getting a positing is highly related with how tall is your list of connections or
    How tall is the list of people that can act as your inside track.
    So ,they whole theory is obselte.
    I have short friends with tall list of big-shot connections ,as long as their arms,who enjoy well-paid descent jobs.
    Perhaps ,I m totally off here.
    I don’t know what they are trying to pull here.


  4. emiliano says:

    Sorry Jeff, but I don´t think so.

    It could be sufficient the assumption of responsibilities in life to feel ourselves
    better or badly assuming the tasks we have to do at every chance.
    Life is long and suffering all king of changes we have the aptitude to believe
    we can do it or even pass along bad moments being entire safe.

    Seeing a mounting from below it could be too hight but if it is necessary to climb it
    the top mountain could seems not so high when we are in the middle knowing it is
    our duty to reach the top every day, every moment, for long….

    More or less life is the same, a top mountain or a long way with lot
    of potholes on the road.

    Every one of us have a paper to act and it depends of the paper life gives us we could feel
    ourself more healthy, rich, stronger or even with new hair like you think dear teacher.

    I would like to see you with hair Jeff, a nice good sight but even being bold you
    are absolutely handsome and attractive, I know it perfectly well.

    Thank you Jeff, you are one of my hero with or without hair on your nice head.


  5. emiliano says:

    Following with the theme I use to see myself younger and stronger that actually I am.
    By my aged It has to be less stronger and with a worst health I could admit.

    Why?. I think it is easy. Just because I feel myself being necessary I am, or at least I like
    to believe, in better form that it would be the real fact of my own age.
    If I was not useful it is sure I would feel myself shorter, worst and with less disposition
    to write here, read so much or doing home chores.

    People feel themselves as by the task it is supposed they have to done.
    So the employer´s feel themselves taller, healthier or even smarter than they are….big
    responsabilices makes strong personality but less self-esteem reduce the fantasies
    till reality.

    Our minds make miracles, may be some day Jeff you could see hair sprouting from your
    head, who knows?

    Nice topic Jeff, I like it a lot.


  6. Peter says:

    Dear Jeff,
    With due respect ,
    I read through the post several times ,still I don’t get what the survey is trying to reveal.
    I can’t get your post.
    I got what you conclude at the end
    But,I m totally clueless about the second last paragraph (one before the jeff’s conclusion)

  7. Betty says:

    Thank you very much, Jeff, for this interesting report of research result, and for telling us the informal adjective “big shot”.

    After reading your article, I asked the internet what is the opposite of “big shot”. It did not say the opposite of “big shot” is “small shot” or anything else.

    I am interested to find out about it because I am very small.

    Actually I think being taller is an advantage in some jobs. Almost no job needs someone smaller in order to perform better – apart from some sports professionals like horse riding, aerobics.

    As far as a job in the office is concern, I never felt “smaller” because of my size. Perhaps I paid no attention to how tall everyone else is – no need for it, everyone else is so much taller than me. I will not be used to it if I find someone smaller than me. I am indifferent. I don’t try to think of how tall everyone else is, what is the point?

    No, Jeff, don’t just think about the hair growing back, do something if you want them back. My hair has grown grey and I use some hair product to bring back the natural hair colour. I do not really care about my hair but my father does not like it if I do not sort out my hair.

    You must have heard about “Hair Implant”, have you considered or tried it?

    But to be honest, you look perfectly “perfect” without hair, I thought you chose to shave them all off.

    I am sorry we are making joke about our teacher’s hair like that. You started it, Jeff.

    OK, no more joking

    Thanks again.

    Betty 🙂

  8. tania says:

    Hi! Thank you for the classification of the produce (vegetables and fruits) : a) seasonal produce and b) out of season produce
    and farms : a) industrial farm; b) local farm and c) u-pick farm.
    I have not known the phrases “u-pick farm” nor “free-range eggs”, “free-range meat”.
    And we have to adopt the European rules regarding the free-range eggs and free-range meat, too.

  9. tania says:

    Hi! Very useful and the lesson “Getting Standard Medical Test Results”.
    New phrases for me: “annual physical”, “I need to get a physical”.
    We have a lot of new medical labs with new lab devices from import. And many lab results are delivered in English language.
    Usual terms to me ” EKG for “electrocardiograma”, “mamografie”, “colesterol”.

  10. tania says:

    Hi! For many, many women Pap smear is the most important test. It is compulsary and frightful thinking about the test result.

    Romania refers to cervical testing as “Methode Babes-Papanikolaou” in honor of Dr. Babes.
    Although the Greek doctor G. Papanikolaou is generally credited for all invention of the cervical cancer screening test by cervical cytology,
    the authors of the “History of Obstretics & Gynaecology “(London, 1994) believe that Dr. Aurel Babes of Romania, was the true pioneer in the cytologic diagnosis cervical cancer.

  11. tania says:

    Hi! Very trendy the Psychology and psychological terms.
    To understand our psychiatrist (who can afford one) we have to know what means:
    Is it good? Is it bad? I think I am a little loner and a little introvert.

  12. tania says:

    Hi! But me, I have found the best answer in a Romanian poem:

    “Days go past and days come still,
    All is old and all is new,
    What is well and what is ill,
    You imagine and construe
    Do not hope and do not fear,
    Waves that leap like waves must fall;
    Should they praise or should they jeer,
    Look but coldly on it all.”

    “Look but coldly on it all.” – Is the poet a neutral one?

  13. tania says:

    Hi! Still, I insist: WE HAVE TO VOTE!

    All the best to you all,


  14. Dan says:


    I am not sure but if you are small you can be called: shorty, dwarf, gnomy, elf…no offence
    At my workplace there is a guy who is short. We call him dwarf (Nano)
    Then, there is this guy who is really tall but has a little bold head. He’s been named the Giant Dwarf, which if you think about it
    is a contradiction. there is not a dwarf who is a giant at the same time.
    You know, these are just nicknames that we give to co-worker.

    I am wondering what are the nickname of Jeff and Lucy?

  15. Dan says:

    The opposite of Big Shoot would be, I guess, Little Fish

  16. tania says:

    Hi! Mitt Romney has just lost in South Carolina. Is he a Mormon? I cannot believe.
    I have to listen to again the English Cafe on Mormons.

  17. tania says:

    Hi! I like the English Cafe on Jimmy Carter with many political details.

    I have read your post on Blog2008/02/05 “Super Tuesday”. Now I have understood the difference between caucus, primary election and general election. Thank you.
    I do not find your explanation in my dictionary.

  18. tania says:

    Hi! I know only the verb to shoot, shot, shot.
    But the word “shot” has a hundred meanings.
    Interesting to know the new phrase “Big Shot”.

  19. Dan says:

    I have just found a synonym for Big Shot reading a blog post: Big Cheese

  20. tania says:

    Hi! Dan, you are right. A lot of funny nicknames. For a short one we say “the smurfs”.

  21. tania says:

    Hi! At last it is snowing, it is snowing! Emiliano, just to envy me: I have gone for a walk among the firtrees full of snow.
    It could be wolves there.

  22. tania says:

    Hi! I have just watched the movie “Bonnie and Clyde”, 1967, with Faye Dunaway.
    I think the action takes place on two plans: the first is their bank robbery, crimes, and the second their special relationship including their special sexual relationship.
    I am very impressed of the second plan of the true story. Yes, it is a shocking movie even for the year 2000.

  23. Xavier says:

    You can try !! You have nothing to loose. But I think it’s a waste of time, It’s not beacause managers think they’re bigger, that they grow up …

  24. Joe says:

    I do not get the idea either. The purpose of the experiment is obscure.

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