Objective. Growth hormone treatment of hormone-sufficient short youths is predicated on the belief that short stature is associated with social problems with peers. This study assessed peer relations and social adjustment as a function of height in a community sample.

Methods. A cross-sectional study was conducted at 1 public school district in Western New York of students of both genders who attended grades 6 to 12 (N = 956). Target groups included participants of short stature (height −1.6 standard deviation, ie, ≤5th percentile for age- and gender-adjusted population norms; n = 68) and tall stature (≥1.6 standard deviation; ≥95th percentile; n = 58) and classmates of average height (between the 25th and 75th percentiles; n = 123) used for within-class comparisons. All remaining unclassified classmates (n = 704) also provided data. Self- and peer-rated assessment of social reputation and social acceptance was measured.

Results. Minimal effects of height on measures of social functioning were detected despite substantial statistical power. We detected no significant relationships between height and measures of friendship, popularity, or reputation with peers. Findings did not vary by gender of participant, by peer- or self-report, or by whether data from the entire sample were used or target groups were contrasted with comparison participants. Shorter students were perceived by peers to be younger than their age. This influence was restricted to lower grades and did not have an impact on measures of social acceptance or reputation with peers.

Conclusions. Extremes of stature in the general population—either short or tall—have minimal detectable impact on peer perceptions of social behavior, friendship, or acceptance. Findings are not supportive of the need to intervene a priori because of the potential risk of negative stature-related social sequelae. Furthermore, if problems with peer relationships are identified among short or tall youths, then factors other than stature should be considered as etiologically important.

You do not currently have access to this content.