Monday, March 17, 2008
Pursuing a hunch inspired by a post on breast size and getting married by Irina, I managed to hunt down a study that shows the characteristics of the Boobman, Assman, and Legman. First though, I could not find any studies that investigated what non-obvious correlates there may be of breast size, rump size, or leg length. So I can't back up Irina's observation that larger breasts, as opposed to say a rounder butt, make a woman more likely to get married.
The idea is not ridiculous: females vary in their reproductive strategies, some specializing in shorter-term and some in longer-term relationships, for example. And like many strategic choices, there is likely a trade-off: to wit, between investing a finite amount of body fat more in the upper or more in the lower region. Larger breasts could reflect pleiotropic effects of genes that also contribute to being more focused on stability and the long-term in mate choice. Or perhaps men who are more of the "good dad" type have a bias toward larger breasts, so that these are a response to the preferences of guys who will stick around.
Moving on to what I do have data for, let's see what Wiggins et al. (1968) have to say about what men with different physical tastes are like. They asked 95 male college students which silhouette drawings they preferred, and these independently varied the size of the breasts, butt, and legs: each appeared in a "normal" size, somewhat large, large, somewhat small, and small. They completed personality questionnaires and provided demographic background info.
Men who preferred the "large" figure -- large breasts, large butt, and large legs -- were characterized by "a need for achievement." Those who preferred the "standard" figure -- normal size for all parts -- were characterized by "a tendency to be disorganized in personal habits." And as for the small figure -- small size for all parts --
Those who preferred the small figure tend to persevere in their work. They are not cynical about authority and reported coming from an upper-class background. Although the small figure was generally disliked by the present group of subjects (Table 1), it very well may be a preferred type among members of the upper class (Moore, Stunkard, & Srole, 1962) as suggested by the present data.
I don't think there's any deep evolutionary strategy going on with upper-class people preferring petite females. It could just be a fashion statement.
Men who like large breasts:
Also characterizing large-breast preference was a tendency to date frequently, to have masculine interests, and to read sports magazines. Further, large-breast preference was related to a need for heterosexual contact and for exhibitionism (saying witty things and being the center of attention). In social relations, men who preferred the large breasts tend to be non-nurturant and independent. This latter result gives support to Scodel's (1957) finding of a lack of fantasy dependence among college men who preferred large-breasted figures. In the present study, preference for large breasts was positively correlated with smoking and negatively correlated with endurance (perseverance in work habits).
Sounds like the Boobman is a gregarious "guy's guy."
Men who prefer boobs that are friendly and unpretentious:
Men who prefer large buttocks (that is, men who are not homosexuals):
Sounds like the Type A businessman or political leader. (I would say "alpha-male," but that wouldn't be very self-abasing, would it?) Quoth bodybuilder, badass actor, and governator of California Arnold Schwarzenegger (watch from 1:35 - 2:25 in this clip):
"I can absolutely understand why Brazil is devoted to my favorite body part - the ass."
Men who like small buttocks:
Unlike those who preferred large buttocks, those who preferred small buttocks tend not to be self-abasing. They tend to persevere in the completion of their work and do not feel the need to be the center of attention. As a group they tend not to be education majors and their reading interests do not include sports magazines.
Men who like large legs:
The most substantial correlate of large-leg preference is an abstinence from alcoholic beverages as indicated by the negative correlation with both drinking and amount of drinking. Those who preferred large legs are nonaggressive and self-abasing (guilty, self-blaming). They tend to be psychologically minded (intraceptive) and are characterized by a slow personal tempo. . . Subjects who preferred large legs indicated that they are not business majors and that they would choose their mother over their father if they had to make a choice. The personality pattern suggested by these correlates is one of inhibition and restraint in social situations.
Men who like small legs:
[P]reference for small legs is characterized by a strong need for social participation. Those who preferred small legs are characterized by needs for nurturance, affiliation, and exhibitionism. That is, they are helpful to others, feel a need for social participation, and like to be the center of attention in social situations. They are also socially dependent and tend not to stick at a task until completed.
So, men who like the "large" figure (the one who's tall and has t&a) are the more ambitious ones, the Boobman sounds like a social guy's guy, and the Assman sounds like a Type A businessman. It's possible to interpret this pattern as showing that the Boobman is more likely to settle down with one woman, while the Assman would be the polygynous executive type. Admittedly, the data aren't very clear; they certainly don't contain any direct information about willingness to marry, thoughts on monogamy, and so on.
It has been 40 years since this study was done, but in my search I could not find any follow-up studies -- you have to admit that it's not exactly a major research concern. If any readers know of similar studies, or especially of studies on the non-obvious correlates of female breast, butt, and leg size, please say so in the comments.
* I believe "not psychologically minded" in this case means they tend to think of people in simple stereotypes rather than using complex and varied concepts. Terms like "psychologically minded" and "intraceptive" are fossilized jargon from 40 years ago, and it's not totally clear what is meant.
Wiggins, J.S., J. Wiggins, & J.C. Conger (1968). Correlates of heterosexual somatic preference. J Pers Soc Psych, 10(1): 82-90.