Gay male attraction toward muscular men: Does mating context matter?

Eleanna Varangis, Nicholas Lanzieri, Tom Hildebrandt, Matthew Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to examine gay men's perceived attractiveness of male figures based on short-term and long-term partner contexts. A sample of 190 gay adult men rated the attractiveness of line-drawings depicting male figures varying systematically in muscularity and body fat percentage in both short-term and long-term dating contexts. Mixed effects modeling was used to estimate the effects of figure (muscularity and body fat), dating context (short-term vs. long-term), and individual rater characteristics on attractiveness ratings. Results indicated that figure muscularity and body-fat had significant non-linear (i.e., quadratic) relationships with attractiveness ratings, and short-term dating context was associated with more discriminating ratings of attractiveness. Interactions between individual characteristics and figure characteristics indicated that the more available the individual and lower body fat, the more discriminating they were in ratings of attractiveness. The implications for future investigations considering both object and observer characteristics of attractiveness preferences are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-278
Number of pages9
JournalBody Image
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Attractiveness
  • Body fat
  • Gay males
  • Muscularity
  • Short and long-term relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • General Psychology


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