For freshman Christina Cromett, being in a relationship with someone is all about feeling safe.
St. Thomas student lifts weights at the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex. Recent research from Abertay University suggests that women are attracted to manly facial and body types because this look also signifies good health. (Meghan Sheldon)
That’s why Cromett said she prefers to have her own ‘man of steel’ to protect her from harm.
“I like strong men because of the sense of protection,” Cromett said. “(Strong men) tend to be more athletic and more fun.”
According to recent research from Abertay University, women’s timeless attraction to the “hunky” man may go beyond their interest in ripped muscles and defined chins.
The study suggests that women are attracted to manly facial and body types because this hunky look also signifies good health.
“It’s an attraction,” sophomore Jackie Heitzman said. “They take care of themselves, and they actually care about their health.”
In the study, men in their early 20s were tested before and after they were infected with a Hepatitis virus to see how strong their immune responses were. The strength of their immune systems were measured by the amount of antibodies produced, along with their testosterone and stress hormone levels.
Next, women of the same age rated photographs of the men on a 10-point attractiveness scale.
Researchers found that the men with high levels of testosterone, sexy faces and a strong immune response to a virus scored higher.
Junior Aba Omot agrees that women may be attracted to macho men but also said the reason why might be more than just appearances.
“Our society has taught us to like big, strong men,” Omot said. “Women might be making assumptions that a man who is macho comes with a healthy immune system because of how they look, but it could be how endorphins effect a situation.”
St. Thomas psychology Professor Britian Scott doesn’t believe that women being attracted to hunky men strictly because of their immune systems can be concluded from this kind of correlation data. However, she did acknowledge that there is a connection.
“It just may be that having higher testosterone, lower stress hormones and having a higher immune system. Those are all the result of being healthy human beings,” Scott said. “It would make sense to say women are attracted to healthy men.”
Jhon Wlaschin, an adjunct professor at St Thomas who specializes in relationship research, focuses on how relationships affect our health.
It (the study’s results) makes sense in an evolutionary perspective so its not crazy or far fetched,” Wlaschin said. “If we have some sort of sixth sense about picking a good partner who’s going to be able to survive and not get sick and we can tell that just by looking at them, that has some big time implications for relationships.”
Freshman LaChelle Husnik disagrees with this six sense, and alludes to a simpler root of this attraction.
“I would say that people don’t know that a man has a strong immune system from the outside,” Husnik said. “Women are attracted to macho men simply because they are muscular, and that signifies strength and endurance.”
Wlaschin also noted that women can identify good health in men through other ways like smell and facial symmetry. Symmetry in humans, long hair and shiny eyes are also signs of a good genetic makeup.
“Really what is attractive to us is coming from our unconscious mind that processes all of our sensory information. Millions of bits of information are hitting our brain all the time from our sensory information,” Wlaschin said.
Wlaschin even argued that appearance could play a role in this year’s upcoming presidential election.
“We expect leaders to be tall and good looking,” he said.
While consensus on the findings of this study may not exist, one thing remains certain; for many St. Thomas women, the healthier the man, the happier they are.
Meghan Sheldon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.