Party leaders asked to choose debate podium heights so none of them look short

Being tall can make you look more authoritative, psychologists have long believed

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Indy Politics

Party leaders have been asked to specify their “ideal podium height” ahead of Thursday’s 7-way election debate – to prevent any of them from getting an unfair advantage.

Producers at ITV are determined that none of Britain’s party leaders will look taller than the others, a factor which psychologists warn can give the impression of authority.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the leaders have been asked to email the ITV producers in charge of the debate with their preferred podium stature.

The parties are set to draw lots to decide which order they’ll answer questions in on the day to keep the playing field level.

One 2004 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that “tall individuals have advantages in several important aspects of their careers and organizational lives”.

“Height should be particularly relevant in the workplace where issues of persuasion and power take on special significance,” said the academics, from the University of Florida and University of North Carolina.

A separate 1993 study published in Psychology: A Journal of Human Behavior found that: “The perception seems to exist that taller individuals are somehow more capable, able, or competent”.

These advantages are all applicable to leaders debates, where participating politicians aim to cast themselves as future prime ministers.

The findings have long been applied by spin-doctors in the United States, where television election debates for presidential candidates have been the norm for decades.

None of the current party leaders are particularly tall, with David Cameron and Nick Clegg both topping out at a respectable-but-not-outlandish 6ft 1.

Nicola Sturgeon is the shortest party leader and has previously spoken of her use of high-heel shoes to boost her stature.

A spokesperson for ITV declined to comment on the story when contacted by the Independent.

The debate is the second special election programme to take place, following on from a double-grilling of Ed Miliband and David Cameron.

Leaders will also take part in a Question Time special and an 'opposition' debate between all the party leaders except David Cameron.

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