It is bad news for sensitive, skinny men, but the old rules may still apply in the dating game. When it comes to what women want, muscular, tall men still win out, a study suggests. Scientists showed a group of 160 women photographs of shirtless, faceless men and asked to give them an attractiveness rating.

The results show men who looked strong, with muscular arms and toned torsos, did far better than those who had worked a little less hard at the gym. The appearance of physical strength was far and away the biggest factor in determining how attractive a man was seen to be. On its own, this accounted for more than 70 per cent of men’s attractiveness. Tall men also did well with the ladies, although less so, with strength, height and leanness all taken together making up 80 per cent of the attractiveness of the men.

The study, led by Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Researchers wrote: “The results show that most male bodily attractiveness stems from cues of formidability and physical strength, and that strength increases attractiveness in a linear fashion.

“This effect of height and weight on attractiveness may be due to mate choice mechanisms responding to cues of health, or to the benefits that height and lean bodies have in protracted aggression, hunting and other aspects of fighting ability.” Not one of the women showed a ‘statistically significant preference for weaker men’, according to the Australian researchers.

Ancient influences involving the survival benefits of being with a healthy man who can hunt and fight are likely to account for the findings, they believe. Just as is the case with most other mammals, the female of the human species is most attracted to the muscular male. One of the women tested appeared to prefer weaker men while looking at them from the front, but fell in line with the rest when given a side view.

Previous research has shown that women particularly value upper body strength, such as ‘muscular strength’ and biceps. But some researchers suggest, because the most formidable men are unwilling to invest resources in their children that women tend to go for moderately strong but not extremely strong or weak partners.

The study appears slightly at odds with other research indicating that some women prefer men with less masculine faces. However women rated the males on their bodies only. “This has been interpreted as an evolved strategy to navigate the trade-off between securing high-quality mates and leaving one vulnerable to exploitation by powerful men,” said the scientists.

There seemed to be  ‘disunity’ between face and body processing so that a weaker face sitting on a strong body might be seen as the most attractive combination, they added. Men have been shown to rate themselves as more attractive if they have a stronger hand grip, while studies also show many aim to have stronger bodies in order to attract women. Women are also known to think taller men are stronger, even when that is not the case.

The attraction to height means the caveman impulses given by the researchers may not be the entire story. The study concludes: “This suggests that women are treating lean and tall men as more attractive for reasons other than just fighting ability.”


Source: The Guardian Newspaper