Science Daily —
Surgeons are taller and more handsome than physicians, finds a study in
this week’s Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal.
Doctors at the University of Barcelona Hospital noticed that the
tallest and most handsome male students were more likely to go for
surgery, and the shortest (and perhaps not so good looking) ones were
more likely to become physicians.
So they decided to test the theory that, on average, surgeons are taller and better looking than physicians.
selected a random sample of 12 surgeons and 12 physicians from the
hospital plus four external controls (well known film stars who played
surgeons or physicians). All subjects were matched by age (52 +/- 7
years) and sex (all men), their height was recorded and they were asked
to submit a digital picture.
Pictures of all subjects were then
randomly organised and shown to an independent group of eight female
observers (all in the same age group as the study subjects). Observers
used the "good looking score" to classify each participant (ranging
from 1, ugly to 7, very good looking).
The results show that, on
average, senior male surgeons are significantly taller and better
looking than senior male physicians. They also show that film stars who
play doctors are significantly better looking than real surgeons and
There are several potential explanations for these
findings, say the authors. For example, surgeons spend a lot of time in
operating rooms, which are cleaner, cooler, and have a higher oxygen
content than the average medical ward, where physicians spend most of
their time. They also often wear clog-type shoes that adds 2-3 cm to
their perceived height.
In contrast, physicians have a tendency
to hang heavy stethoscopes around their necks, which bows their heads
forward and reduces their perceived height.
Further studies are
needed to assess if these findings also apply to junior male surgeons
and physicians, as well as to senior and junior female staff, they add.