Little man syndrome, more commonly known as Napoleon complex is a theorized inferiority complex, associated with men of short stature.
The syndrome is mostly defined by aggressive and authoritarian social behavior, as well as overt focus on impressing people with one’s career, wages or social status.
It is a common social stereotype that prominent short people achieved their positions as compensation for their shortcomings in height.
The notion of the “little man syndrome” has been around prior to modern times, as it is a perception that people tend to compensate for things they are dissatisfied about themselves, like height.
Napoleon complex, however, truly emerged as a concept in the beginning of the 19th century, especially in 1803, when British newspapers propagated the folklore that Napoléon Bonaparte was an angry short man, compensating for his tininess by being a military genius and conquering most of Europe.
Even after the death of Napoleon in 1821, the English continued to spread the idea that the emperor was suffering from “little man syndrome” and thus, Napoleon complex became a common phrase, when describing the behavior of people.
The stereotype has been a reoccurring topic in psychology in the last two centuries, emerging in books, studies and essays all across the globe.
It was first defined on Urban Dictionary in 2003.