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Is Manspreading Sexy?!

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Photo: Rex Features
According to a new study, women can't resist men who stand around looking like they’re starring in a '90s boy band video: legs a-kimbo, arms outstretched, hands in jazz-mode. Men who take up unnecessary amounts of room on the tube and in so doing let their crotch just… breathe, got a lot of flak at the beginning last year. But a new U.S. study, released this week, suggests that, at least subconsciously, we find people who extend their torsos, sit in wider positions and generally take up more room, attractive.

In the report, published in the 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences', Tanya Vacharkulksemsuk at the University of California, Berkeley, and her team began by watching 144 videos of different speed dates, and discovered that for both men and women, those with expansive postures almost doubled their chances of getting a ‘yes’ from their date.

Vacharkulksemsuk followed this first part of research by creating Tinder-style app profiles for three men and three women. The profile pictures uploaded were either closed stances (arms crossed, sat down) or open postures (legs apart, arms out wide) and discovered that, yes, you gottit, ‘open’ pictures saw more likes – especially when it came to the mens’ profiles.

“Based on our results garnered from thousands of single persons at an actual speed dating event, and using a dating application, it is evident that postural expansion can dramatically increase a person’s chances of making a successful initial romantic connection,” the report reads.

It’s interesting that the male profiles, where full use of available space was exercised, fared better than the women’s profiles where the same technique was employed. When Sharon Stone uncrossed her legs in Basic Instinct, when Christina sat ring-side legs wide and in chaps for Dirty, and when Miley swung the hell out of that wrecking ball; we all took a deep breath. But why, when we’ve seen it all before in cowboys, Santa’s lap, Tarzan, every slow boy-band track where they sit, open legged on a stool. The male ownership of the spread is something we’ve become accustomed to, through popular culture and social conditioning.

While the guys doing their best gorilla impersonations on Happn might be doing alright in terms of matches, it’s important to bear in mind that the study was based in environments where people are consensually looking for a romantic partner. So before you do your best David Brent in the canteen at lunch, or knock out someone else's leg room on the Northern Line, it’s worth considering that it might just look like rabid entitlement.
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