July 11, 2007
Muscular Men Get More Sex

Here's one big reason why I expect men will eagerly embrace the use of biotechnology to alter body shape.

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.

Women know the muscular men have different personalities and behaviors as compared to the skinnier guys.

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.

I vaguely recall earlier studies that purported to show that upper class women prefer men with less muscles than lower class women.

Will men adjust their body shapes when they change their minds about how long term they want their relationships to be? Time to get married and therefore time to slim down the muscles somewhat in order to appear more caring?

We can expect by using biotechnology future males will have more muscles, less body fat, less gray hair, and less receding hairlines.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 July 11 12:03 AM  Brain Sexuality

Kurt9 said at July 11, 2007 8:36 AM:


Genetic engineering? Just go to the gym and start working out.

I did this starting in 1987. I'm still doing it today. Do reps slowing with the full range of motion. Do not "jerk" the weights or try to do too much weight. Body building is a slow process with the tendon build-up being the rate limiting step. Tendons take longer to build up than muscle and most "muscle men" work out too fast, build up weight too fast and, thus, damage their tendons. I have never had this problem.

I think you're right about upper class women liking skinnier men. The lower class women definitely like the muscle men.

TTT said at July 11, 2007 10:49 AM:

I don't agree. A man's looks matter a LOT less in the mating game than a woman's do.

I know a lot of men who study seduction as an art and a science. These are not men who are wealthy or particularly good-looking. But they get the best results with women. Why?

Because they study the process and psychology of seduction. It is really nothing more than learning a new language, and learning how to read the most subtle clues a woman subconsciously drops to indicate what 'stage' she is in, and what words/actions are appropriate for escalating from that stage.

It is a learnable skill, no harder than, say learning to master a different language like Chinese, or learning to master a musical instrument. But it IS a learnable skill, that supercedes money, looks, etc. in a man.

TTT said at July 11, 2007 10:53 AM:

"It is really nothing more than learning a new language"

To clarify, by this I mean that it constitutes learning how to improve the tone of your voice, use words and phrases that connect with a woman's psychology (which has a completely different set of buttons to push than a man's psychology), and knowing when and how to escalate, based on very subtle clues and signals a woman subconsciously drops..

Most men have no awareness of these factors, or skill to capitalize on them, and thus either leave hundreds of opportunities unnoticed, or squander the opportunities that do come their way.

rsilvetz said at July 11, 2007 11:37 AM:

Next we can prove that men like hot babes... and wreck their lives routinely mating with beautiful incompatible females... been there done that!


In time we will genetically engineer very lean, muscular and high symmetry bodies for both of the sexes and that will be that. Beauty per se will drop out of the equation as a primary determinant because the race will have high physical characteristics (narrow spread -- however you want to think about it) and perhaps humans will then learn to discover their more natural eHarmony-style relationships.

Then again I still hope for a laissez-fair Civilization of the Universe to come about so...

Nancy Lebovitz said at July 12, 2007 3:09 AM:

Or maybe muscular men are more likely to lie about sex?

ANM said at July 12, 2007 6:07 PM:

Well, one seduction artist wrote that it's easier to start off being the short-term relationship guy (the muscleman in this case), and transition to a long-term, than vice-versa. So appearing caring might not be the best way to go, because you won't lure the girl in the first place.

TTT, which 'guru' are you thinking of?

Mr. Parker, thanks for the email response to my question about careers.

TTT said at July 12, 2007 6:23 PM:

"TTT, which 'guru' are you thinking of?"

There are many different styles and methods, some taught by 'experts', and some that are amalgams of various materials. There are things a person can customize to fit their own personality.

But the point is, seduction and pick-up are learnable, practicable skills, once a man understands that it really is all about recognizing that a woman's psychology is different from a man's, and then learning which buttons to push, at what times, in a woman's psychology.

simon said at July 12, 2007 6:47 PM:


For a guy who is so studious how do you make such STUPID assertions based upon research that does NOT indicate any thing like what you conclude.

Bob Hawkins said at July 13, 2007 8:59 AM:

And to think, people used to deride science fiction for depicting a future where everyone was physically perfect.

Buffet said at March 23, 2008 2:04 AM:

No chick in her right mind is gonna wanna make it with a pencilneck. They're immediately perceived as losers - which, of course, they are.

evets said at May 30, 2010 5:04 PM:

I am two steps below brawny and I'm married to a beautiful woman...lots of the good stuff going on here.

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