Sex Ed

Upper Body Strength Plays A Big Role In Men’s Physical Attractiveness

January 24, 2018 by Justin Lehmiller


What do heterosexual women find attractive about the male body? A new study suggests that signs of muscularity and upper body strength are particularly important, while height and weight seem to play much smaller roles.

This study is the subject of my latest column over at Playboy. In this research, both Australian and American women were shown photos of men’s bodies (their faces had been blacked out) and asked to provide two ratings: perceived strength and physical attractiveness. By and large, researchers found that the stronger a man was seen as being, the higher the attractiveness ratings he received. In fact, perceived strength accounted for a whopping 70% of the variability in attractiveness ratings!

Taking height and weight into account increased that number to 80%. So these other factors also seem to be playing at least some role in men’s attractiveness, with taller and leaner guys tending to receive higher scores; however, height and weight didn’t seem to be nearly as important as perceived strength.

So why is perceived strength such a big factor when it comes to heterosexual women’s attraction to the male body? Scientists believe there may be an evolutionary explanation.

To learn more about this explanation, as well as some of the other factors involved in male attractiveness beyond physical appearance (after all, looks aren’t everything!), check out the full article over at Playboy.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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