In a scientific tour-de-force worthy of the search for the elusively small Higgs boson, scientists have discovered that size really does matter to women when it comes to the length of a man's manhood.
A taboo-breaking study into female sexual desire has revealed how much women secretly revere a man with a sizeable penis.
The researchers believe that the relatively long phallus of Homo sapiens, which is far larger than it needs to be to perform its essential biological role, is in fact the result of many generations of prehistoric women choosing well-endowed men.
Before clothing, the unaroused member would have been conspicuous to females in an upright-walking species and so could have evolved to become larger than was physically needed as a result of female choice, the scientists postulate.
This innate attractiveness toward well-endowed men is retained today, hidden deep within the female psyche, according to Brian Mautz, formerly of the Australian National University in Canberra and lead author of the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"We found that male attractiveness is significantly influenced by penis size. More specifically, we found that large penises are rated as relatively more attractive than smaller ones," Dr Mautz said.
"Our results show that present-day females rate larger penises as more attractive, but it is hard to infer anything much beyond that. Part of the reason is because of clothing - it does complicate the situation," he said.
Unravelling the role played by the flaccid male member in making a man appear attractive to women was solved by using life-sized, three-dimensional images of naked male manikins projected on to a video screen.
Each of 49 different images was rotated slightly to show off the anatomically correct details of the male genitalia, while about 100 Australian women were asked to rate each life-size image according to its sexual allure, based on a score of one to seven.
In addition to varying the penis length, the scientists played around with the stature of the models, making the men appear taller or shorter, and with wider shoulders or hips, which were already known to influence male sexual attractiveness.
"The effect of penis size on attractiveness is not independent of the other two traits of height and shoulder-to-hip ratio. For example, penis size has a much larger effect on attractiveness for taller men, than it does for shorter men," Dr Mautz said.
"It certainly does show that size matters, at least on some level, and that how much it matters is relative to other traits."
- THE INDEPENDENT