CHICAGO Muscular young men are likely to have more sex partners than their less-chiseled peers, researchers at the University of California Los Angeles said on Monday.
Their study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, suggests muscles in men are akin to elaborate tail feathers in male peacocks: They attract females looking for a virile mate.
"Women are predisposed to prefer muscularity in men," said study author David Frederick of UCLA.
"Most research is focused on what men find physically attractive in women and the career traits women find attractive in men," Frederick said by telephone. "Much less research is devoted to what women find attractive."
He said prior studies concluded a man's desirability was influenced more by his earning potential and commitment. His study found physical characteristics mattered more.
Women were more physically attracted to brawny men, especially for a fling. But when it comes to finding a long-term partner, they tend to pick a regular man over a mate with huge biceps.
"On the one hand, it makes them more sexy to women. On the other hand, it makes women more suspicious about their romantic intentions," Frederick said.
He and colleagues interviewed 99 male undergraduates about their sexual histories. Muscular men were twice as likely to have had more than three sex partners than less-built types.
Frederick and colleagues also asked 141 college women to look at six standardized silhouettes of men ranging from brawny to slender. Most preferred a toned man who was more likely to commit over a muscle-bound man they perceived as more volatile, aggressive and dominant.