Men who are more muscular than average are much more likely to have short-term affairs and multiple sex partners than their scrawnier peers, according to new UCLA research published in the August issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
“If you’re trying to figure out why men — especially young men — spend so much time at the gym, here’s your answer,” said David Frederick, lead author and a UCLA doctoral candidate in psychology. “The stereotype is that men work out to compete with each other, but our research suggests that pumping iron is a way for men to enhance their attractiveness to women.”
The series of studies, conducted by Frederick and co-author Martie Haselton, a UCLA associate professor of communication studies and psychology, is the first published research to quantify an association between men’s muscularity and their success in the sack. The four-year project also scientifically quantified for the first time women’s perceptions of the importance of muscularity in selecting short- and long-term partners.
“A lot of mate-selection research focuses on what men find attractive,” Haselton said. “This shows women are putting a premium on attractiveness. Women care about muscularity when they choose sex partners.”
Frederick and Haselton lead a team that photographed 99 male undergraduates. A panel of independent judges rated the young men on a nine-point scale, with “1” being much less muscular than average and “9” being much more muscular than average. The researchers then asked the men about their sexual histories.
When compared with their less-muscular peers, young men who were more muscular than average were twice as likely to have had more than three sex partners in their lives.
In another study, Frederick and Haselton asked 120 undergraduate males to rate their own physiques on the same scale and then asked them about their sexual histories.
The self-identified muscular men had not only had more sexual partners than their less burly peers, but they were twice as likely to have had brief flings or one-night stands with women. The difference in the number of sexual partners reported by the men who were more muscular than average was also notable: They reported having had an average of four partners, compared with an average of 1.5 partners for men who reported average or below-average muscularity.
In a similar study, Frederick and Haselton asked 60 undergraduate males an additional question: How many affairs had they had with women who already had a boyfriend at the time of the affair? Muscularity mattered here as well. The more muscular individuals were twice as likely as their less well-built peers to have hooked up with someone else’s sweetheart.
The researchers, who are associated with UCLA’s Center for Behavior, Evolution and Culture, say that their findings on muscularity are consistent with research findings on the secondary sexual characteristics of other animals, such as the attention-getting tail feathers of male peacocks.
“Everybody knows that testosterone is a hormone that promotes strength in men, but less well-known is the fact that the hormone is also associated with poorer immune system functioning,” Frederick said. “Secondary sexual characteristics are thought to have evolved as indicators of mate quality because they demonstrate an ability to flourish in the face of what’s really a drag on the system. Males in good enough shape to withstand the deleterious effects of immunosuppression have to be especially fit and are therefore more likely to transmit fitness to their offspring than less well-endowed males.”
“Evolutionary scientists have long maintained that exaggerated secondary sexual characteristics — such as large muscles in men — are cues to genes that increase the viability of offspring or their reproductive success,” Haselton said. “In an age when medical advancements play such a large role in the survival and health of children and so many people use contraceptives, it’s not clear whether these genes continue to offer reproductive benefits. But women today are still attracted to muscular men, just as their ancestors would have been, because that’s how we’ve evolved.”
Interestingly, women in the study seemed to be on to muscular men. When presented with six standardized silhouettes of men ranging from brawny to slender, 141 undergraduate women consistently identified the most muscular ones as not only less likely to commit but also more volatile and domineering. In the study, the women rated “toned” guys — the physical type two notches down from “brawny” — as the most sexually attractive.
“Moderate muscularity demonstrates that men are in good condition, but they’re not so overloaded with testosterone that they are volatile, aggressive and dominant,” Frederick said. “Just based on their experiences, women seem to be able to weigh good and bad male traits.”
Still, in a study by Frederick and Haselton of 82 college coeds, most women reported that their short-term partners were more muscular than their long-term ones. They characterized their long-term — and presumably less muscular — partners as more trustworthy and romantic than their one-night stands or brief affairs.
“This suggests that the sweet-guy approach works better for less muscular men,” Frederick said. “The muscular men don’t need to put in this kind of effort, especially for a short-term relationship.”
25 thoughts on “Muscular Men Have More Flings, Partners, Affairs”
I am curious about what these results would’ve been had this study been conducted in the 1960′s 1970′s, or before. I’m not so sure whether muscular dudes were the sexy studs every girl would want to sleep with back then. For all I know, they were most likely some kind of weird freaks. I think it’s the media that have brainwashed entire generations since the 80′s to make us believe what a “hot” man should look like (the reverse about female is also true, yet to a lesser extent). Therefore I think the evolutive argument is bullcrap.
well before 1960s we had steeve reeves the ladys man and 1960s and 1970s we had sergio oliva and arnold and no they werent freaks, 2 of them ended up being the highest paid actors of their time
Beauty fades but dumb is forever!
I agree. When you make yourself all physically perfect by having a perfect muscular body, then all anybody is going think about when their with you is sex. A lot of these kinds of people are sexy on the outside, but really ugly on the inside, cause they’ve never had to work on themselves and their personalities cause the world has just accepted them from the start from the way they look. You need a lot more than just a perfect body to make it long term in a relationship.
I do agree though, women might like a muscly man for a one night stand, but not long term.
The media has brainwashed guy into thinking that they have to look like Ryan Renolds or Channing Tatum.
Ugly on the inside?
That’s a ridiculous stereotype, even before I began weightlifting, most of the guys with muscular bodies were nice, so were most guys with average bodies.
In fact, most of the bullies I had encountered were skinny pricks who were in massive groups and would carry knives around and drink all day.
This was how high school life was like, and it was less than two years ago so I don’t think a lot has changed.
I get infuriated when people make comments like this.
The whole: “Guys with muscular bodies are sexy on the outside but ugly on the inside” sounds more like an excuse for people who don’t want to get fitter.
this is stupid muscle is awesome there is a point where almost anyone will say that is too much time to work on tone. the truth is women from my experiences care about the personality more than the physical appearance.
I am curious about what these results would’ve been had this study been conducted in the 1960’s 1970’s, or before. I’m not so sure whether muscular dudes were the sexy studs every girl would want to sleep with back then. For all I know, they were most likely some kind of weird freaks. I think it’s the media that have brainwashed entire generations since the 80’s to make us believe what a “hot” man should look like (the reverse about female is also true, yet to a lesser extent). Therefore I think the evolutive argument is bullcrap.
1) so.. if males have a lot of sex partners .. we are a “success in the sack” but if women do…. they are trollops and hussies? There’s a social commentary if ever there was one.
2) Maybe the reason they have so many partners is because they are cheating more? or getting dumped more? I’m not buff. I cant have alot of partners not because I am not buff. Its because I have a fiancee. I think the buff guys just arent in successful relationships. Thats the ONLY way you can bed lots of people is by being failed in relationships or by cheating. No sane female is going to let her buff guy bed lots of people. So dude is cheating… or failing. Thats the ONLY way he can bed “lots of women”. Quantity is not quality.
3) muscles dont pay the bills. Teach your daughters to date rich men. Muscles cant buy love and happiness. According to other “researchers”.. women with rich husbands have more orgassms. So, poor buff guy.. may have lots of failed relationships…but his woman isnt orgasming as much as that of scrawny rich man. Shopping is an aphrodisiac. BIg house is an aphrodisiac. Living in a Safe neighborhood.. is an aphrodisiac.
4) research Jena Pincott’s study of “macho men” and “feminine” men (sorry if I have this name wrong).
Her study conflicts with this study. Thats why I dont like studies. One minute Eggs are bad for you.. then they arent soo bad as believed.. then they are bad. Its like.. “arrrg”
5) Or its possible buff guys lie more. The more muscles the more ego. The more ego.. the more lies to inflate said ego.
What race of female was the subject of this study?? Because muscles arent worth a hill of beans if you date japanese girls.
They are attracted to brains and success. That is a brain culture not a muscle culture.
And this study conflicts with another study that says women prefer effeminate men with female features and disposition and don’t want macho men anymore.
I think attraction scientists should just get a new job. All they are doing is contradicting each other.
It is not really even about attraction or sex for some of us. I bodybuild because I am addicted to it — I guess I’m a bit massocistic, but I love the pain. For me, it is a sense of acheivement, of hard work shining through. I used to be overweight, and my family has a history of bad health — so for me it was also about survival, that just got ‘out-of-hand’ with my growing passion for it. Sure, women notice when I enter any public location, even women obviously with other men (typically average or under-developed types)… but that is hardly a motivating factor in this for me, but I won’t deny it feels good to receive that kind of reception from strangers.
I also enjoy the science of nutrition and bodybuilding. The gym is essentially my laboratory, and each new workout is an experiment — some work, some don’t. I always go back to the drawing board, and I always keep growing due to my dilligence and efforts.
On the same token, I enjoy helping others achieve what they thought was impossible for themselves. I love helping someone else build their bodies and drop unwanted fat, and see that look of excitement in their eyes, and the growing joy for a healthy lifestyle come through in another person. I’ve been there — overweight — so I understand.
So… it is for more than just sex or the ladies. I don’t even go to bars or clubs or parties, and I think sex is overrated by most. This brings up the downside to my lifestyle — it consumes everything else (i.e., eating on time, working out on schedule, etc.) It is hard to find time for friends or family, especially on a “cut” (to lose the winter fat from a bulking period).
Ok so muscles get the visual attention, as much as I think women want to say that they are above this male like attitude where we like big butts and big breasts they like small butts and big muscles. The personality part is the same for both sides as well, if he’s a dick she’s leaving. If she is a bitch he’s leaving. Body is the attention getter, personality determines quality of the relationship
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