Science Says This Body Type Is Most Attractive To Women

With science telling us that there is a reason why some women find 'dad bods' attractive and various social media influencers claiming to find less muscular body types as being more attractive, the ideal male body type that gets most women's gears going has become a mystery. Or has it?

According to a 2017 study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, women like strong, muscular guys. Here's how they arrived at the result: A group of 160 women from Griffith University in Australia and Oklahoma State University were asked to judge the attractiveness of college men's bodies — in photos, faces obscured — on a scale of 1 to 7. None of the women found the weaker-looking men more attractive (via The Washington Post). All the women picked the most formidable-looking men as the most desirable ones.

Aaron Sell, lead author and senior lecturer at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia, told The Guardian, "We weren't surprised that women found physically strong men attractive ... what did surprise us was just how powerful the effect was. Our data couldn't find even a single woman that preferred weaker or feminine male bodies." The men in question came from two pools from the University of California at Santa Barbara: psych students and recruits from the gym. Part of the study involved measuring their actual physical strength, using weightlifting machines, grip strength tests, and other means. What's interesting here is that the female raters were able to weed out the stronger men from the weaker ones just by closely examining the photos.

The implications of the study might not be universal

Holly Dunsworth, an anthropologist at the University of Rhode Island, is a bit critical of the study, saying the results may not be universal, per The Washington Post. The women judges were college-age, as were the model men. She suggests that younger people may be less inclined to consider other factors when evaluating a person's attractiveness.

Also, if your mind is learning toward an evolutionary reason for this preference — a muscular body indicates that a man is healthy and strong, which allows him to protect and provide for his family — you may want to listen to what Lisa Wade, a sociologist at Occidental College in Los Angeles, has to say (via The Denver Post). 

"It's my opinion that the authors are too quick to ascribe a causal role to evolution. We value tall, lean men with strong upper bodies in American society. We're too quick to assume that it requires an evolutionary explanation. We know what kind of bodies are valorized and idealized. It tends to be the bodies that are the most difficult to obtain," explained Wade. Speaking of height, it seems the 2017 study observed two more things: that the women raters also favored tallness and leanness in the men they analyzed, and that even if you're short, if you looked strong, then you would make up for it. But is height a physical trait in men that is irresistible to women?

There's something about tall men

Whether it's the idea of a towering male being powerful or a tall man being able to pick you up easily off the floor when needed, it would seem that height (and an excess of it) is attractive to most women.

According to a 2013 study by Dutch psychologists Gert Stulp, Abraham Buunk, and Thomas Pollet (via Personality and Individual Differences), women liked being in a relationship with a man who was taller than them. More specifically, the women in the study were most satisfied when their significant other was 8 inches (21 cm) taller than them. Per associate professor of psychology at the University of New England in Australia, John Malouff, "One theory is that for evolutionary reasons, women unconsciously prefer tall men because these men tend to be more successful in physical altercations with other men. That theory would apply to humans a dominance perspective similar to that [which] experts hold regarding gorillas and many other animals." 

However, much like with the 2017 body type study, the implications of several studies done on whether or not women actually prefer tall men might not be applicable on a global scale. In an article for Psychology Today, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Professor Emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, commented on the 2013 Dutch study (which also found that both short men and women were dissatisfied with their own height). She shared that maturity and how we see people as we evolve can also be factors here. "Again, this is a problem that time and greater experience in the world can help them conquer."