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Proc Biol Sci. 2017 Dec 20;284(1869). pii: 20171819. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.1819.

Cues of upper body strength account for most of the variance in men's bodily attractiveness.

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School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University, Mount Gravatt, Queensland 4121, Australia
Department of Psychology, California State University, Fullerton, CA 92834, USA.
School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University, Mount Gravatt, Queensland 4121, Australia.


Evolution equips sexually reproducing species with mate choice mechanisms that function to evaluate the reproductive consequences of mating with different individuals. Indeed, evolutionary psychologists have shown that women's mate choice mechanisms track many cues of men's genetic quality and ability to invest resources in the woman and her offspring. One variable that predicted both a man's genetic quality and his ability to invest is the man's formidability (i.e. fighting ability or resource holding power/potential). Modern women, therefore, should have mate choice mechanisms that respond to ancestral cues of a man's fighting ability. One crucial component of a man's ability to fight is his upper body strength. Here, we test how important physical strength is to men's bodily attractiveness. Three sets of photographs of men's bodies were shown to raters who estimated either their physical strength or their attractiveness. Estimates of physical strength determined over 70% of men's bodily attractiveness. Additional analyses showed that tallness and leanness were also favoured, and, along with estimates of physical strength, accounted for 80% of men's bodily attractiveness. Contrary to popular theories of men's physical attractiveness, there was no evidence of a nonlinear effect; the strongest men were the most attractive in all samples.


attractiveness; formidability; mate selection; physical strength

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