ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2021, Vol. 53 ›› Issue (1): 95-110.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2021.00095

• 研究报告 • 上一篇    下一篇


吴奇(), 钟春艳, 谢锦源   

  1. 湖南师范大学认知与人类行为湖南省重点实验室, 长沙 410081
  • 收稿日期:2020-04-07 出版日期:2021-01-25 发布日期:2020-11-24
  • 通讯作者: 吴奇
  • 基金资助:
    * 国家自然科学基金项目(31300870);湖南省教育厅科学研究优秀青年项目(19B361);湖南师范大学青年优秀人才培养计划项目资助(社科类, 2015yx08)

Evolution of Napoleon complex: Relative height disadvantage, mating motivation and men’s risk-taking behavior

WU Qi(), ZHONG Chunyan, XIE Jingyuan   

  1. Cognition and Human Behavior Key Laboratory of Hunan Province, Hunan Normal University, Changsha 410081, China
  • Received:2020-04-07 Online:2021-01-25 Published:2020-11-24
  • Contact: WU Qi


研究以性选择理论为基础, 探讨了与同性竞争者的相对身高劣势和求偶动机对男性冒险行为的影响。4个研究一致显示, 与同性竞争者存在的身高劣势会导致男性提高自身冒险性; 且高求偶动机水平的男性, 会更多地表现出这种补偿性行为。这些结果提示, 拿破仑情结具有进化的基础, 男性在自身身高与竞争者相比处于劣势时, 采用冒险行为进行补偿是男性用以解决性内竞争和性间竞争问题的一种适应器。

关键词: 拿破仑情结, 性选择理论, 冒险行为, 身高, 求偶动机


Throughout the animal kingdom, larger animals are more likely to attain dominance and thus enhance their ability to acquire mates. In human males, body height is also associated with the success and failure in sexual selection. For example, studies have found that taller men have higher strength or fighting ability, are more likely to higher overall income and higher social status, and hold greater potential for acquiring mates. However, shorter men are not necessarily doomed with disadvantages. Previous studies have suggested that men have a flexible status psychology that may allow them to exercise behavioral flexibility (e.g., by showing more indirect aggression or feeling more jealousy toward sexual rivals) to compensate for their disadvantage in height. Given the importance of risk-taking behavior in signalizing the quality of ones’ genes, in the present study, we hypothesized that when encountering a taller same-sex rival, shorter men would compensate for their disadvantages in height by showing more risk-taking behavior, and their mating motives would modulate such an effect in men.
This hypothesis was tested by four behavioral studies. We measured risk-taking behavior by employing a well-validated and computerized laboratory task (i.e., Balloon Analogue Risk Task, BART). In Studies 1 and 2, male or female participants (176 participants in Study 1, and 246 participants in Study 2, respectively) were paired with taller or shorter same-sex opponents, and were asked to compete with their opponents in a computerized game (i.e., the BART task. In Study 3 (255 male participants), we further tested our hypothesis by situationally activating the mating motives of male participants (i.e., by watching videos depicting highly attractive females) and paired them with taller or shorter male opponents in the BART task as in Studies 1 and 2. In Study 4 (90 male participants), we further investigated the effects of chronic mating motive and the relative height disadvantage on men’s risk-taking by employing the Mate Seeking scale of Fundamental Social Motives Inventory.
The results showed that: 1) male participants had significantly higher BART scores (i.e., the average numbers of pumps per unexploded balloon) when their opponents were taller; 2) such an effect was caused by the increase in risk-taking propensity when facing a taller opponent; facing a shorter opponent didn’t affect the risk-taking of male participants (also be compared to a no-height-info control); 3) the relative height difference between participants and their opponents did not affect the risk-taking of female participants; 4) situationally activating the mating motives of male participants significantly affected the effects of relative height disadvantage on male risk-taking, after watching the mating prime, male participants were more likely to elevate their risk-propensity to compensate for their disadvantage in height; 5) male participants with higher level of chronic mating motivation were also more likely to elevate their risk-propensity to compensate for the height disadvantage.
The above results support our hypothesis, suggesting that men may have evolved a behavioral strategy to elevate their risk-taking propensity to compensate for their height disadvantage, and this strategy iswas driven by motives of intrasexual competition and mating. Our study thus provides further evidence for the evolutionary theory of Napoleon complex.

Key words: Napoleon complex, sexual selection, risk-taking, height, mating motive