Why Skinny Stays in the Picture

A study by evolutionary psychologist William Lassek has concluded, perhaps not surprisingly, that the more muscular a man is, the more sexual partners he has. So why haven’t skinny, fat, or average men been wiped out of the gene pool? One reason, according to Lassek, is that men with bigger muscles have to eat more to sustain themselves and have weaker immune systems. Advantage, skinny! [%comments]


Does that hold true all the way up the continuum? What about that guy with the exploding arms? Something tells me he wasn't pulling in the ladies left and right.


"So why haven't skinny, fat, or average men been wiped out of the gene pool?"

Well, that's like asking why there are poor men when wealth has been proven to raise you changes with the opposite gender. Many other variables than muscles and wealth determine your change of getting children so naturally there will always be different levels of income just like there will always be fat and skinny people.
Even more so in the human world, where the overwhelming majority subscribe to the idea of monogamy thus leaving more women to the less fortunate men.


No Holme, it is nothing like that.

Mark T

Generally agree with Holme. Would also point out that muscle men may be worse at getting into battles where they get killed - for example, having more sex partners might mean more conflicts with other muscly men over those partners. And as David showed Goliath the correlation between muscles and victory in battle is not perfect. Skinny men might have more developed bargaining skills that lead to positive sum outcomes vs zero sum battles.


Isn't the easiest explanation that fat or average men used to be muscular and then got fat or average? But got the girl before that happened?


The phenotypic variation in human weight seen in today's first world societies may be more a product of an abundance of food rather than genetic variation. The evolution of humans took place before fast food joints were on every corner.


I recently heard a story about how smaller, weaker dung beetles can get more mating opportunities because they can dig a small tunnel to circumvent the larger dung beetle who is busy blocking his way, and thus sneak in for a quick encounter with the female on the other side. Thus answering the question: why are there still smaller dung beetles?

Extrapolating to humans: perhaps large gym-rat males who are preoccupied at the health club leave their ladyfriends too open for overtures from skinny, less occupied suitors.



Uhhh, I'm pretty sure God defeated Goliath, not David. David was a mule.

C. Larity

There's a simple explanation for that: women settle.


“So why haven't skinny, fat, or average men been wiped out of the gene pool?”

Not every gal is a She-Woman either... if muscle man doesn't show any interest, skinny dude (who is just as virile) starts to look more and more attractive...


That so called 'study' was based on an assumption that life, and gene pools, follow the logic of contemporary consumer society. Women 'choose' partners. They choose what appeals to them the most. As if 'partners' were items in a department store display: 'oh honey, give me some of THAT.'

Listen, as soon as you hear that a 'study' was conducted by an 'evolutionary psychologist' hold your nose and walk on by.


To Mark T. - who do you think wrote the David and Goliath story? A "small" man.

So - physically fit males have weaker immune systems? How does that work?


Hrm...reading the article (but not the actual study), it doesn't appear that the researchers verified the subjects' sexual histories. Perhaps the only conclusion is that beefier men find it more necessary to lie about the number of sexual partners they've had.



What saved us (the non-muscular, not-rich guys) is Monogamy!!

In a polygamous society more women would marry the super-rich. A fraction of the rich man provides more for her offsprings (and better genes) than a whole loser. Monogamy ensures every man gets a shot at procreation.


Robert -

Its not that clear - the assumption is that the appearance of strength attracts women - fulfilling their "need" for security.

Advantage skinny? How so - we are in a time of plentiful - so a muscular man can have whatever he wants. He needs to eat more? Well he can do it today - in the past scarcity was a problem.


"So why haven't skinny, fat, or average men been wiped out of the gene pool?

It seems a bit simplistic to assume that if someone is not physically perfect that they will not ever find a suitable mate. First of all, perfection is relative. Muscles, while generally attractive to females, might not bear as strong an attraction as proportion, or facial appeal, or humor, for instance. While increasing probability of mating with the most shallow of females (those who consider muscles as their only metric, HA!), there are 9 to 1 that prefer not to think of themselves as the lowest common denominator.
Even if muscle size were the only metric in attraction, in our age of food plenty, sanitization, and medical advancement, there would be a surplus of suitors and a scant few "perfect people", leaving the rest of the skinny, fatty, and otherwise "undesirable" to get it on just for kicks, ergo the continuation of the skinnys.



Muscularity isn't 100% heritable. In other words, environment, in addition to genetics, also plays a huge role in muscularity. Someone can have all the good genes that contribute to more muscularity, but if that person is a couch potato, he wouldn't develop muscles.


in other lean men news:

Johnny Depp is officially the “Hottest Dad,” according to a fun Father's Day poll on SheKnows.com's Real Moms Guide.

Personally i know it's the look in his eyes and his zodiac sign.


I think this study ignores a common truism...people "settle". Sure, every girl wants Prince Charming, but at some point reality sets in.

It's not like human society evolved like that in the animal world, where the alpha male would simply kill the children of others, thus ensuring only his strong genes would survive.

Plus, as populations grew, there were simply too many "normal" people for even the studliest of men to inseminate, and especially too many for him to support effectively :-)


i understand the skinny part, but then why do overweight men still exist? clearly we've got an obesity problem in america, but based purely on the logic you present, i'm sure fatter men would eat more than fit men, thereby decreasing their survival rate right?