Get the Perfect Penis

Just in: Science says women prefer large penises. Penises larger than the 95th penile percentile. But women care much more about other things, and this discussion is fraught.
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The most popular story on The Telegraph yesterday was "Size Does Matter, Study Finds." Reporting on the same study, Science called it "The Final Word on Penis Size." 

Guys. Is your penis not so great? Well, women care about that, and you should know. 

Ladies. Do you not care much about penis size? Well, maybe consider it.

SHARK300200.jpg(Brian Mautz / Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

Not that there's anything guys can do about it, except subsequently try harder in other ways to compensate. Buy nice, bulky things. Be very outgoing, ever vigilant. Get angry about sports. Do you have a fast boat? How fast is your boat? Hm, that's sort of fast.

I'm always fascinated by scientific studies of beauty and attraction. I'm also fascinated by conversations about body shaming and objectification, so it can be a fine line. I prefer fascination to outrage, in general. 

SHARK300200.jpg(Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

So here's this study that's described by lead author Brian Mautz, a postdoctoral fellow in biology at the University of Ottawa, who kindly let me reprint the above male renderings from the study. It was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Matt Soniak summed up how they did it:

... The researchers created 343 computer-generated male figures that varied in penis size, as well as in height and shoulder-to-hip ratio--traits that other research has linked to attractiveness and reproductive success. Mautz and colleagues turned the figures into short video clips and projected them, life-sized, onto a wall for viewing by 105 women. Each woman watched a random set of 53 figures and rated their attractiveness as potential sexual partners on a scale of 1 to 7.

"The first thing we found was that penis size influences male attractiveness," 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.

What's more, the most-preferred penis sizes seem to be off their charts, above the maximum portrayed in the study (13 cm, 95th percentile of males). And, in looking at how quick women were to mark their score, the fastest ratings were the low scores given to the small men.

A potentially redeeming thing for small-penised guys concerned by this, despite the headlines, is that men's shoulder-to-hip ratio correlated much, much more strongly with attractiveness than did the size of his penis. That ratio explained about 80 percent of variability; height accounted for 6 percent, and penis size for 5. Men can generally work out and change that shoulder-to-hip ratio if they care to. More from Science:

... Mautz says, is that penis size isn't the only thing that matters. It interacts with other traits, and its effect depends on whether those other traits are already attractive to begin with. 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.

So while coverage of this study focused on how penis size really does matter, what it primarily found was that other factors were much important. There's more insecurity and interest in the penis discussion than the guys-with-big-hips discussion, though. 

Presented by

James Hamblin, MD, is a senior editor at The Atlantic. He writes the health column for the monthly magazine and hosts the video series If Our Bodies Could Talk.

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