Do all men like big breasts?

There are some who have suggested that men’s preferences for breast shape and size are culturally specific, meaning that those from different cultures tend to have different preferences.

Barnaby Dixson of the Victoria Univerity of Wellington in New Zealand tested this hypothesis by presenting men from Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and New Zealand with images of women’s breasts.

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

Men from these three cultures were chosen because they differ in the extent to which they have access to modern healthcare and an abundant supply of food. One hypothesis is that men in poorer environments should prefer women who look healthier or have more abundant fat reserves: that is, they should prefer women with symmetric and large breasts.

Dixson found that men from the least developed society, Papua New Guinea, preferred larger breasts to a greater extent than men from the other two cultures, Samoa and New Zealand. This supports the hypothesis because bigger breasts indicate larger fat reserves and an ability to survive periods of poor nutrition, something men from New Guinea should be sensitive to.

However, men from the different cultures did not differ in their preferences for symmetric breasts. All men preferred symmetry, but there were no cultural differences. It was expected that men from New Guinea would prefer symmetry more than other men, because symmetric breast are indicative of health and in New Guinea there’s reduced access to healthcare and a much greater incidence of pathogenic infections such as malaria.

What this study shows is that when we investigate attractiveness it’s worthwhile looking at different cultures, because preferences can vary from group to group.

I for one agree, and if anyone wants to send me to a tropical pacific island to riffle through pictures of naked women, please email me immediately. Thank you.


Dixson, B. J., Vasey, P. L., Sagata, K., Sibanda, N., Linklater, W. L., & Dixson, A. F. (2011). Men’s preferences for women’s breast morphology in New Zealand, Samoa, and Papua New Guinea. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40(6), 1271–1279. Read summary

The content of this post first appeared in the September & October 2010 episode of The Psychology of Attractiveness Podcast.

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