Science

So sorry Mr Skinny – women prefer men with muscles, study shows

What women really want are tall, lean, men with muscles

Old rules still apply in the mating game – fit men with strong, lean bodies will always win out over those who are wimpy and weak, a study has found.

Just as is the case with most other mammals, the female of the human species is most attracted to the muscular male.

Scientists showed a group of 160 women photographs of shirtless men and asked to give them an attractiveness rating.

Estimated physical strength was far and away the biggest factor determining how attractive a man was seen to be.

On its own, this accounted for more than 70% of men’s bodily attractiveness. The figure increased to 80% when tallness and leanness were also factored in.

Scything interest
Poldark’s Aidan Turner has the kind of body women admire (BBC/PA Images)

Not one of the women showed a “statistically significant preference for weaker men”, said 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.

The team, led by Dr Aaron Sell, from Griffith University in Queensland, wrote in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: “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.”

One of the women tested appeared to prefer weaker men while looking at them from the front, but fell in line with her sisters when given a side view.

The study appears slightly at odds with other research indicating that some women prefer men with less masculine faces.

“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 a “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.

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