Why Is Muscularity Sexy? Tests of the Fitness Indicator Hypothesis

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2007 Aug;33(8):1167-83. doi: 10.1177/0146167207303022. Epub 2007 Jun 19.

Abstract

Evolutionary scientists propose that exaggerated secondary sexual characteristics are cues of genes that increase offspring viability or reproductive success. In six studies the hypothesis that muscularity is one such cue is tested. As predicted, women rate muscular men as sexier, more physically dominant and volatile, and less committed to their mates than nonmuscular men. Consistent with the inverted-U hypothesis of masculine traits, men with moderate muscularity are rated most attractive. Consistent with past research on fitness cues, across two measures, women indicate that their most recent short-term sex partners were more muscular than their other sex partners (ds = .36, .47). Across three studies, when controlling for other characteristics (e.g., body fat), muscular men rate their bodies as sexier to women (partial rs = .49-.62) and report more lifetime sex partners (partial rs = .20-.27), short-term partners (partial rs = .25-.28), and more affairs with mated women (partial r = .28).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Beauty*
  • California
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology
  • Sexuality*
  • Somatotypes*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women / psychology*