There is a question What does scientific research say about the relationship between penis size and attractiveness?

This answer and this link give the statistics of penis size. Given these statistics, the average man performing in porn, would likely be in the top 2.5% of the population of penis size.

Porn stars are statistical outliers, not the norm; men are more likely to be over 6’3” than to have a penis longer than 7.5 inches.

It also "appears" that men may be inclined to having poor self-perception, regarding their penis size.

Males self-perception
Males may quite easily underestimate the size of their own penis relative to that of others, because of the foreshortening obtained from looking down, due to repeated observation of atypical penises in pornography, or because of the accumulation of fat at the base of the penis.[34] A survey by sexologists showed that many men who believed that their penis was of inadequate size had average-sized penises.[35]

Given that men are the main consumers of pornography, why does pornography feature so many men, out of the norm for penis size?
Would it be more appealing to men, if the men starring in porn, had average sized penis? what is the psychology behind using men with such, abnormally, large penis?

  • $\begingroup$ What percentage of women like that sort of thing? My guess is not as many as you'd think. I'd bet a fair sum that women would prefer the 6'3 guy over the >7.5 tallywacker. $\endgroup$
    – Randy
    Aug 25, 2013 at 12:04
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    $\begingroup$ Men like big things... big muscles, big machines, etc, so I guess first we need to understand why that is. Also, I think we need to establish that women may not typically like members of epic proportions, then it will be concluded its an all-male desire. $\endgroup$
    – Randy
    Aug 25, 2013 at 12:36
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    $\begingroup$ I'm gonna go watch some monster trucks on youtube now. $\endgroup$
    – Randy
    Aug 25, 2013 at 16:18
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    $\begingroup$ Well, whoever has the biggest probably has the most testosterone (and DHT - androgenic) which is supposed to be something women want. So guys compete with each other and brag about how big it is... Just like they watch overgrown men beat each other up on tv or big trucks smashing cars. Its all testosterone, being the biggest, baddest. Women are attracted to it, even though they say they don't like it. But they have to, or it wouldn't have evolved that way. $\endgroup$
    – Randy
    Aug 25, 2013 at 17:05
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    $\begingroup$ Also, there is a study showing women who live in countries with great healthcare, choose men with less manly features while women who live in countries with crappy healthcare choose manly men. online.wsj.com/article/… So testosterone is associated with health, but if genetically afforded health is not necessary (substitute medically afforded health), then big muscles and all that isn't that attractive. $\endgroup$
    – Randy
    Aug 25, 2013 at 17:11

3 Answers 3


Besides the simple mechanics of it being easier to position actors and film the details of intercourse there is probably a supernormal stimulus effect. The term, coined by Tinbergen (1948) when he observed birds laying artificial eggs of ridiculous size, is used to describe the effect of a stimulus which elicits a response more strongly than the stimulus for which it evolved. Very large breasts, buttocks, penises, tall heights, etc. are not necessarily particularly useful but because we evolved to prefer larger values of these for fitness reasons we suffer from a supernormal stimulus effect when they are exaggerated. Imagine the rarity of such things for millenia of our evolution during which food and leisure time were relatively scarce. There was little reason to evolve a preference against extreme proportions.

  • $\begingroup$ +1 Great answer, John. $\endgroup$
    – user3116
    Aug 28, 2013 at 16:59
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    $\begingroup$ There is one problem with this answer for me and that is in this line: "but because we evolved to prefer larger values of these for fitness reasons we suffer from a supernormal stimulus effect when they are exaggerated." Why would men evolve a preference for large penises in other men? If women have such a preference, that is irrelevant, since the pornography in question is filmed to appeal to men and not women. In other words, I believe this as an answer for breasts and buttocks, but I feel there is an extra something missing when it comes to penises. $\endgroup$ Dec 5, 2013 at 0:09
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    $\begingroup$ Artem, the question evolved a bit since my answer but you're right, the question doesn't exactly address that as male consumers. I believe the male consumers angle probably has less to do with attraction toward penises at all and more to do with visualizing oneself in the male role. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Dec 5, 2013 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ @John I agree with you, I've been meaning to add an answer that stresses this aspect (as well as discussing in passing some dangers of evo-psych), but it might make more sense as an edit to your answer if you wanted. $\endgroup$ Dec 8, 2013 at 12:19
  • $\begingroup$ There is another problem with the assertion that humans evolved to prefer larger penis sizes: It contradicts the evidence. Historical evidence suggests that penis size preference (if any) is cultural, not inherited. For example, see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_penis_size#Historical_perceptions $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Dec 13, 2014 at 6:32

a) Since pornography is about visuals, not actual physical stimulation, visual properties of the body part are more important: big breasts and big penises are more attractive in pornography than they are in real life, because larger penises and breasts "stand out more" and are more impressive to the viewers, even though the same men (or women) might not find such features important (or even attractive) in real life.

b) Pornography is not about making anyone happy, it is a product that must leave its consumers unsatisfied. More pornography can be sold, if men are unhappy in real life and use pornography instead of working on their relationships. Making men and women unhappy with themselves and each other will make relationships less likely to function and men and women to use consumption as a substitute.

c) In pornography for a male public it does not matter what women find attractive, because they are not the main consumers of that medium. The male organs visible in for-men-pornography must be attractive for men and therefore conform to their ideas about male attractiveness.

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    $\begingroup$ -1 A lot of unsupported assertions and opinions here. a) is similar to @John's answer, though I don't see why people should prefer large penises or breasts in porn but not in real life. In b) you seem to be asserting that porn producers cast men with big penises because they are in cahoots with the penis enhancement pill producers. Similarly, c) seems to state that porn is deliberately produced to be "unsatisfactory" and make people unhappy about themselves. d) just restates the OP's point that men seem to prefer big penises but doesn't attempt to answer why. $\endgroup$
    – ThomasH
    Aug 31, 2013 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ @ThomasH I like this answer, it does provide a theory, much of of consumerism is based on keeping people unhappy and wanting more $\endgroup$
    – user10932
    Dec 5, 2013 at 4:03
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    $\begingroup$ @ThomasH It seems to me that you didn't even read my answer. For example, you write that you "don't see why people should prefer large penises or breasts in porn but not in real life". I answered that: Because they are more visible. etc. $\endgroup$
    – user3116
    Dec 5, 2013 at 16:46

Could it be that men are more strongly aroused by porn actors with large penises?

This would be implied by sperm competition theory. The basic idea is that if females have more than one mating partner, there is an evolutionary pressure on men. According to the theory, over time, this results in adaptations in response to this "sperm competition" that increase the chance that own sperm is successful.

If this is the case, then seeing sexually aroused rivals should be a strong stimulus indicating sperm competition. This idea has been investigated in various studies that have looked at the kind of pornography that men consume, and the consequences of doing so.

For example, Pound (2002) found that in pornography, depictions of sexual activity of several men with one woman are more frequent than depictions with several females and one male, and that men select the first category of pornography more frequently.

As another example, Kilgallon and Simmons (2005) showed men pornographic images of either two males and a female (sperm competition images) or pictures of three females (without males). Their results indicated that the semen quality (sperm motility) was better when the men saw pornography involving other men.

I couldn't find any research that has look at penis size directly. Nevertheless it is a straightforward conjecture that, as aroused penises are a sperm competition stimulus, larger penises should evoke more arousal.


Pound, N. (2002). Male interest in visual cues of sperm competition risk. Evolution and Human Behavior, 23(6), 443–466. http://doi.org/10.1016/S1090-5138(02)00103-4

Kilgallon, S. J., & Simmons, L. W. (2005). Image content influences men’s semen quality. Biology Letters, 1, 253-255.

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    $\begingroup$ On a personal note, this answer will be my farewell to the site. My career at cogsci.se is coming to an end. It's only fitting that this and the answer before that cogsci.stackexchange.com/a/12598/7759 will be the climactic endpoint of my short tenure here (scnr). It was fun while it lasted. Without irony, I can say that I have learned a lot. So long! MaríaAnt $\endgroup$
    – user7759
    Nov 14, 2015 at 13:25

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