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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall ...
Women looking for a casual relationship with men much prefer the Rocky or Rambo look to the doughboy physique.
However, for women seeking a longer-term relationship, the Jack Black look is in, according to a psychological study.
"Contextual Influences on Interpersonal Complementarity," published in an issue of Social Psychology Bulletin, focused on how settings and role status moderated the relationship between men and women.
According to one of the researchers, David A. Frederick, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at UCLA, results were as they predicted: Women much prefer muscular men for short-term dalliances and softer men for long-term relationships.
As we approach 2009, nothing has changed, which is something to consider, given that this month-filled parade of social events and food aplenty is probably one in which waistlines just expand and expand.
"Other studies have come out showing that athletic men have more sex partners than other men," according to Frederick.
He stated that the women sampled for the study were college students and were not differentiated by region, age, race or religion.
"We do know that muscular men have become more common in popular media over the past 30 years. But does this reflect a change in women's preferences, or simply that [their] preferences are being more catered to now that they have more economic and buying power? That is unknown," said Frederick.
For David Baron, chairman of the department of psychiatry at Temple University Medical School, it had a different meaning: "What is important about [the study] is that, while it is fun to read, there are many other variables that go into why people are attracted to one other."
He thought that the most important fact of the study was "that women are looking for something different in a long-term relationship than they are in a short-term relationship."
However, he pointed out that you cannot make general statements about all women "because they are different, and the traits that they find interesting and desirable are highly individualistic."
And how do men feel about all this?
As the owner of East Falls Fitness, Scott Aaron, 28, builds bodies for a living.
He admitted that he was in fairly good shape when he got married three years ago, and is in even better shape today.
"My wife will tell you that my body was what first attracted her," he said. "In fact, the first time she saw me without my shirt on, she remarked, 'Thank you, Lord.' The fact that I was in good shape definitely motivated her to pursue me more."
Concerning the study, Aaron stated that he felt there were many women who feel self-conscious about their bodies: "I think women will gravitate to muscular men as a means to getting in better shape themselves. They may stay with that person and, in a short amount of time, realize they do not want to keep up or prove something. With a less muscular person, they may feel they are more comfortable, and can be what they are."