Science tests the size debate

A Monash University biologist was part of a national research team that has shed new light on how women take into account male body shape, height and size of genitalia...

A Monash University biologist was part of a national research team that has shed new light on how women take into account male body shape, height and size of genitalia to determine the sexual appeal of men.

The study was conducted by Dr Bob Wong, from the School of Biological Sciences, together with researchers from The Australian National (ANU) and La Trobe University. Their findings were revealed today in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The researchers projected life-size, 3D computer-generated male bodies to 105 female participants with the images differing in height, body shape and penis size, and asked them to assess the figures’ sexual attractiveness.

The researchers found that penis size influenced how the female participants perceived attractiveness - and the more ample, the more appealing.

“There is always much debate on the subject and we wanted to address the notion of whether size matters using a valid scientific approach,” Dr Wong said.

“Our study altered several male body parts at once using used life-size, 3D figures to show for the first time that penis size has different effects on attractiveness depending on height and body shape.”

In line with popular belief, height and shoulder width were also influential, with women preferring taller men and men with broad shoulders and narrow hips - V-shaped, rather than pear-shaped.

“We found that penis size affected a man’s sexual attractiveness, but height was equally as important, with taller men considered more attractive,” Dr Wong said.

The study also reported that taller men with larger genitalia were considered more attractive than shorter men with larger genitalia.

Lead author of the study Dr Brian Mautz, from the ANU said an overall impression of attractiveness to women, without focusing on any particular body part is what distinguished the research from previous findings.

“The only previous study of this topic in humans used five small drawings of male figures that differed only in penis length. It was very obvious to the female participants which character they were being asked to assess. In that situation, it’s easy for people to self-deceive or lie and distort the results,” Dr Mautz said.

Dr Wong said the results supported the theory that female mate choice could have driven the evolution of larger penis size in humans.

“Our results hint that humans might have larger penises because before humans wore clothes, females may have been more likely to mate with well-endowed males,” Dr Wong said.