Traits of men who prefer breasts, booty, or legs

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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:

Those who preferred small breasts tend to hold fundamentalist religious beliefs and to be mildly depressed. In contrast to those who preferred large breasts, those who preferred small breasts are nurturant in their relations with others. They are not cynical about authority and come from large, nonworking-class families. They are lacking in achievement motivation and are indefinite about career plans. As a group, they tend to be engineering rather than business majors.

Men who prefer large buttocks (that is, men who are not homosexuals):

Preference for the very large buttocks was characterized by a need for order (neatness, organization, orderliness). . . Those who preferred the largest buttocks figure tend to be business majors (accounting?) and tend not to be psychologically minded [* see note, agnostic]. In social situations, they are dependent and given to self-abasement (guilty, self-blaming). Their value orientation tends not to be stoic in nature.

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.

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  1. Funny posting. Irina’s a charmer, no? And further studies must be done, clearly.  
    I wonder how any of these characterizations would hold up today. Unapologetic, unashamed booty-lovin’ has become such a huge part of the culture … I’ve been planning for years to write a big posting about this: About how one of the biggest changes I’ve witnessed in my decades as a culture-observer has been the ass-thing. Back in the ’60s, gal sex stars (well, white ones anyway) tended to have rather flat, almost demure asses. There they were, but you clearly weren’t expected to fixate too enthusiastically on them. Boobs were the real mark of womanliness. (Boobs, emotions, makeup, haircuts, etc.) Then in the late ’80s, as I remember it, asses started getting peddled in more mainstream venues. Quel shockeroo. Previously white Americans had always had trouble with asses — I guess they seemed naughty, dirty, shameful.  
    Camille Paglia somewhere sensibly speculated that the emergence of the ass as a focus in the U.S. had to do with dusky people generally. Black culture and black music … More and more Latinos … And voila, you’ve got ass-worship. 
    My projected posting would be a very well-arted one, of course.

  2. ancient greek prostitutes padded their asses.

  3. This is interesting… but seriously, a study of 95 college students? Psychologists REALLY need to learn that college students who want beer money are not representative of the population at large…

  4. LOL. the N is small, but it’s about representativeness at the end, right?

  5. I’m guessing these guys were all white. They need to do a bigger study, taking all races into account.  
    My boyfriend is a curves man, preferring a woman with some extra meat, and ass to breasts. He is a solid Type A business-type, half white, half ‘hispanic’ (cuban, so white.) 
    Settling down with one woman is also a cultural invention. Most men in our culture (at least before) were forced to settle down with one woman. I wonder how preferences differ between cultures.

  6. Josh: The study is from 1968…

  7. Where does my preference – for what I call the Glorious Natural Pelt – fit into this?

  8. Interesting how the big leg man psychological profile seems to really nail Robert Crumb, the comic book artist and rather infamous leg man.

  9. One thing that’s changed in the 40 years since that study was conducted is a major increase in the desirability of East Asian women. For the most part, East Asian women have relatively small breasts and rumps, and short legs.

  10. Breast size (in women of normal weight) is correlated with higher levels of progesterone. This in turn is associated with higher levels of fecundability (strange word but I guess we need to distinguish it from actual fecundity; anyway see here, also here. But I don’t have a clear idea of what implications higher fecundability would have for mating strategies; though it seems like it would make casual sex more costly for women (higher chance of pregnancy) and therefore be more likely to be associated with a marry-and-settle-down strategy.

  11. Irina, 
    Well I’m a White guy, but non-American, and like larger women than the US average, ideally size 12-14. I’m currently very happily married to a large legged, large assed, large breasted (D-cup), but low waist-to-hip-ratio woman, who at 5′ 7″ is 183 LBS.  
    Things couldn’t be sweeter!

    Well I’m a White guy, but non-American, and like larger women than the US average, ideally size 12-14. I’m currently very happily married to a large legged, large assed, large breasted (D-cup), but low waist-to-hip-ratio woman, who at 5′ 7″ is 183 LBS. 
    LOL. i’m sure she’s happy with you plastering her vitals….

  13. bbartlog, 
    During the time of the month that progesterone is highest, one week before menstruation, estrogen and testosterone in a woman are lower. Progesterone is a very calming and stabalizing hormone, and is very much associated with large breasts (and water weight in the tummy region). For me at least, when I am at a high-progesterone period, sex is the farthest thing from my mind and I seek protection and affection. Many women who get on all-progesterone birth control pills immediately notice a dip in their sex drives and gain weight. (Think Xtina Agueilera when she got a little pudgy.) One of my friends went from wanting sex several times a day to wanting it once a week at most. 
    It may come at no surprise then to find out that progesterone is the pregnancy hormone. Obviously women who have high p exhibit higher characteristics of a pregnant woman- motherly, large-breasted, moody, and needy. Maybe men who are prone to want to be daddies are naturally attracted to this type. 
    Reductionist’s warning: It’s important to remember that hormones do not exist in a vacuum, and that most women who are high in one hormone are high in many hormones. That’s why it’s hard to say that a woman is masculine because she has high testosterone, when most women who have high testosterone have equally high estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, oxytocin, etc. So a woman with large breasts may not necessarily have high p, and a woman with high p may not necc. have large breasts. 
    That’s interesting, because I’ve always associated the guy’s guy boobman to be the alpha male, and not the type a assman.

  14. Bbartlog — thanks for the links. 
    Irina’s a charmer, no? 
    She’s the only other person I’ve met who recalls adolescence as clearly as I do. But she’s only 23 or 24, where I’m 27, so we’ll see how much she remembers when she’s an old geezer like me. 
    ancient greek prostitutes padded their asses. 
    What about the modern ones? Seriously, though, this speaks to big butts being more for short-term mating. That would also tie into what Bbartlog said about big breasts raising risk of pregnancy — if you have a low risk of pregnancy, because the fat is in your buttocks rather than boobs, then you can mate with more males and “spread paternity uncertainty around.” 
    So, we’d expect ass-fixation to become more frequent in more unstable environments and where short-term mating is the norm. In both of these, a female would try to get material help from lots of men, and dangling the carrot of paternity in their face could do it. 
    I’m guessing these guys were all white. They need to do a bigger study, taking all races into account. 
    It’s actually good that they were likely all White — if they were mixed, then race could be a confound. Here we see that, even among Whites smart enough to go to college, individuals who favor one body part tend to have certain characteristics. 
    One thing that’s changed in the 40 years since that study was conducted is a major increase in the desirability of East Asian women. 
    I keep hearing this but don’t see it. East Asians have never made a splash in FHM, Maxim, Playboy, etc., or TV shows where the primary purpose is to look at hot girls. There was a small fad for East Asians in pornography during the mid-late ’90s, but that’s all I can think of.

  15. That’s interesting, because I’ve always associated the guy’s guy boobman to be the alpha male, and not the type a assman. 
    Alpha-male is harder to define for humans. I mean the one who’s higher than the other in testosterone, has a higher level of energy than the other, and who’s more likely to want a harem of females rather than commit to just one. (I include marrying and doing things with other women, or marrying 5 times, as a polygynous “harem” strategy.)

  16. East Asian women have become very sought-after as wives and girlfriends.

  17. “East Asian women have become very sought-after as wives and girlfriends.” 
    Peter, would you specify the region and social class where this is supposed to be the case, please?

  18. East Asian women seem to be the most sought-after among educated, reasonably affluent white American men.

  19. peter, do u have any statistics that actually show this or is this just by observation? 
    the men u describe seem to be in the upper echelons of white society. 
    the ones i’ve seen are most certainly not of that class. i’ve seen some men of rather modest education and means after east asian women. these are people i would categorize as dorks rather than nerds because they are socially inept and do not have above average intelligence.

  20. And remember that more goes into “seeking out X as a gf or wife” than just “finding X physically hot.” Guys who do dig East Asians aren’t blown away by their sexy figures — usually it’s their personality or something.

  21. One aspect of the problem that might be worth studying is the relationship between education/economic status and the readership profiles of the various nudie mags. For example, my general impression of the readership of Juggs (for the uninitiated, a magazine specializing in woman with huge breasts)is that they tend to come from a somewhat lower socioeconomic level then the readership of Playboy. Does anyone know of any studies on the readership of these magazines, something that would go beyond the merely anecdotal?

  22. I’m a butt guy. My wife is Korean and has what she calls an Asian butt…meaning not much of a butt…Aren’t men hardwired to desire a nice butt…aren’t breasts really “mimicking” the bum…

  23. OK, maybe you smart guys could help settle an argument…maybe I’m a selfish lover or maybe I’m just a regular guy. I’ve checked to see how long our closet relatives last before they pop…gorillas copulate infrequently with a copulation lasting 80 seconds…Bonobos are average copulation is short, about 13 seconds. 
    Average Time to male Orgasm: Kinsey found that 75% of all males reach orgasm within 2 minutes of penetration, and felt that it was normal, though he does note that it “may be most unsatisfactory to a wife who is inhibited or natively low in response.” Way to state the obvious, doc. 
    Average Time to Orgasm (female) 
    Females in Kinsey’s studies averaged a little less than 4 minutes to reach orgasm during masturbation, though for coitus it took anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.” 
    The research revealed that the average sex therapist believes an “adequate” length for intercourse was from 3 to 7 minutes; “desirable” from 7 to 13 minutes; “too short” from 1 to 2 minutes and “too long” from 10 to 30 minutes. 
    What’s your take, from an evolutionary perspective, on the ave. time of oragasm after penetration?

  24. Razza: “Ancient greek prostitutes padded their asses.” 
    I’ve patted some ancient Greek prostitutes’ asses – does that count? 
    Oh OK, they weren’t ancient and they weren’t prostitutes – 1 out of 3 ain’t bad, is it?  
    Assman – thanks for posting that Schwarzenegger clip – brilliant stuff. And I don’t mean him, obviously. 
    Don’t know if anyone spotted this – the objective seems to be to find someone who is moderately depressed about having a great ass: 

  25. Fuzzy: Geoffrey Miller (an evolutionary psychologist) in The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature claims that the clitoris requires so much stimulation because this is a mechanism of female choice. So it requires the mate to be somewhat athletic (so as not to tire), somewhat interested in pleasuring the female, and intelligent enough to figure out how to please the female. He justifies this by claiming each the penis and the clitoris are outcomes of Fisher-esque runaway sexual selection, a highly developed male trait designed to stimulate a highly discerning female trait. The particular quote I like is “As a mechanism for female choice, we should not expect female clitoral orgasm to respond to every male copulation attempt, however inept, lazy, inattentive, brief, and selfish” (239). 
    But then again, this is an evolutionary psychologist saying this.

  26. Great old joke:  
    “How do you make a woman come?” 
    “Who cares?”

  27. The desire for “larger” women or “asses” (badonkadonk, etc.) is a vestigial characteristic of “cool”, “black” culture. I put black culture in because I don’t believe in an authentic one, that is, regardless of any black man’s habits, customs, etc. I’m not going to call him more black or less black than any other from that group. 
    I heard on the radio one time a guy who hit it right on the head, and had it been a talk show during the day, in this overly PC society, I felt he might have got in trouble … because he was telling it how it was. He said, (in response to a woman talking about how latin guys and black guys tend to like “larger” women) “No, it’s not that they don’t really like those women (thinner, fitter ones), they just can’t afford them. Name one well-to-do black man that has a LARGE woman.” 
    She didn’t have a response. I was dying laughing because it’s true. 
    In general, everyone is shooting for the same thing. I don’t think anyone doesn’t like a nice (not huge) ass or big tits, long legs, lustrous hair, etc. Overdoing a characteristic begs at a clear attempt of over-compensation for various reasons, mainly self esteem.

  28. Well “it’s obvious”, just when you’re feeling smug that small, svelte women are sexy, I see Maxim has just nominated a small, svelte woman as unsexiest woman alive?!

  29. They got that right.

  30. Personally, I don’t get the preference for large tits. For me, shape is much more important that size, although the best-shaped breasts are usually sized B or C. Of course I have no problem understanding intellectually that some men prefer large breats. 
    The best-shaped breasts are firm with the (perky) nipples pointing slightly upwards.