Bad news for the short and small

The results are in, and if you’re short of stature and small of, um, member, then the news isn’t good for you.

In a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers in Australia asked 105 women to rate the attractiveness of a set of computer-generated naked guys and rate the images based on height, shoulder-to-hip ratio, and — there’s no delicate way to say it — penis size.

The results were huge. (Sorry.) According to ScienceNOW:

“The first thing we found was that penis size influences male attractiveness,” [study author Brian] Mautz says. “There’s a couple of caveats to that, and the first is that the relationship isn’t a straight line.” Rather than the attractiveness rating consistently improving with each jump in penis size, the team found what Mautz calls “an odd kink in the middle.” Attractiveness increased quickly until flaccid penis length reached 7.6 centimeters (about 3 inches) and then began to slow down….

But the results go deeper than that. (Sorry again.) The three traits the team assessed don’t “exist in a vacuum,” as ScienceNOW put it, and their interrelationships had a big impact on how the women in the study rated the attractiveness of the images they saw.

If one of the model men was tall and had a masculine, V-shaped torso with broad shoulders and narrower hips, for example, he was considered more attractive than his shorter, stockier counterparts, regardless of penis size.

But cheap jokes and innuendo aside, here’s my question. How much was the study affected by Western cultural norms? There are some features that are attractive in some cultures but which look odd to others. Like neck extension among Kayan women of Burma (who start using brass coils at a young age to give the impression of longer necks). Would the results be the same if it were women surveyed were from New Guinea or Botswana?

Or would it be fair to say that tall men with large penises would be considered more attractive across all cultures?

Let me know what you think in the comments.

UPDATE: My wife just raised an interesting question: Cultural influences aside, would the study results be the same or similar among gay men? Discuss.


3 responses to “Bad news for the short and small

  1. I would think most cultures would value the tall/fit figure more than short and stocky, it speaks to better health. I wonder if they exposed any of the test subjects to a fit figure who happened to be short? Penis size may have something to do with it, but I’d say the scientists stacked things in their favor.

  2. I wonder if they took into account the sizes of the women. Although it happens, most women don’t end up with men who are extremely taller than themselves. A foot taller (or less) isn’t unusual but there is such a thing as too tall, so shorter women presumably would prefer shorter men (but not likely shorter than them). As the study showed, penises can be too big as well. Since women come in different sizes, “too big” (and “too small”) would mean different things to different women. I think focusing only on the male figures and ignoring the female subjects is a flaw in the study.

  3. I think Darcy’s right — on the flip side, men tend to be attracted to women with the classic traits related to fertility and health, and I would imagine there is some equivalent biological thing happening for women and their attractions as well.

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