Researchers Tested Which Male Body Shapes Women Find The Most Attractive. It's Not Good News, Men

James Felton

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

clockDec 13 2017, 16:24 UTC

If you are a man with a female partner and you don't have the perfect body, go ahead and ask her what kind of body type she prefers in men. We'll wait.

Ok, have you done that? If she said anything other than "massive rippling abs", "oiled bulging biceps", or "pecs that can dance up and down on command", there's a good chance she's lying to you out of kindness, according to a new study from Griffith University, Queensland.


The study was aimed at testing how important physical strength is to men's bodily attractiveness. Photographs of headless male torsos were shown to groups of women, who were asked to rate either their attractiveness or their physical strength. Some were normal university students, the others were men who worked out three to five times a week. The strengths of all the men were tested.

For the purposes of science, here are some torsos for you to rate in your own heads.

A muscly torso. The kind of which you'd see in a "get HENCH in three weeks with this one weird trick" advert. Shutterstock / Iulian Valentin.
A less classically muscly torso. Perhaps that is why the owner is hiding in a bush? Shutterstock / Skeronov

How did you rate those? According to the new research, if you rated the less well-muscled body you are in a tiny minority. In fact, of the 160 women surveyed, not one found the unmuscled bodies more attractive.

“We weren’t surprised that women found physically strong men attractive... what did surprise us was just how powerful the effect was,” lead author Aaron Sell told The Guardian.


“Our data couldn’t find even a single woman that preferred weaker or feminine male bodies.”

The biggest predictor of how attractive the men were to the women in the study was their perceived physical strength. The men thought to be the strongest made up 70 percent of the men thought to be the most attractive. After further analysis, the researchers also found that women preferred tall and lean men.

The research, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B counters the idea that strength only makes you attractive to the opposite sex up to a point, where you are perceived perhaps as "too muscly" and become less attractive again. The team put this down to previous studies being conducted with line drawings, rather than actual photographs.

If you aren't the ideal body shape (like just about everyone who hasn't got the time to go to the gym every day) of course, don't worry. One, obviously, looks aren't everything. It's very unlikely people are going to choose partners from their torso alone anytime in the near future. Two, this wasn't a huge study. A total of 160 women isn't a huge number of participants, and further research is needed. The team acknowledges that other studies have shown women tend to prefer more feminine faces, which generally aren't found at the top of an extremely muscly body.


As well as that, the researchers provided one more silver lining:

“Even if you’re a bit overweight, looking strong can buffer that. Basically, being a strong, fat guy is OK, which I think would bring comfort to many.”


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  • men,

  • women,

  • attractiveness