For millennia, the debate has raged on whether penis size is important or if “it’s not the size of the boat but the motion of the ocean” that counts.

Now a new Australian study into penis size and body image has found that size does matter to men, but chiefly in relation to how they shape up compared with other men.

“It’s the locker room syndrome,” said principal researcher and Doctor of Clinical Psychology student Annabel Chan from Victoria University. “Men are more concerned about how their overall body size compares to the perceived male ideal than they are about how their size might impact on their sexual relations.”

The study, which investigated the link between men’s penis size, body image and mental health, found that men who indicated a larger-than-average penis size had higher self esteem, better general health functioning and higher overall body satisfaction than those reporting an average or below-average sized penis.

The study also revealed that men who were happy with the size of their penis were less likely to engage in online dating (This tended to apply more so for heterosexual men than gay and bisexual men.)

The study further concluded that participants who had never used Viagra were more satisfied with their penis size and had less online dating experience than those who had.

Ms Chan said that because a large penis was considered a cultural ideal, the survey results were not a great surprise, but they provided fresh insight into male perceptions about their bodies.

“We have relatively little data about the body image of men because most of the research in this area concentrates on women. This survey starts to correct that,” she said.

“Men with poorer self-esteem and higher body dissatisfaction have a preference for online dating as initially, physical attractiveness does not deliver the primary impression.

“Respondents who had more internet dating behaviours tended to be younger with a higher body mass index (BMI). They also displayed dissatisfaction with their penis size, lower self-esteem and higher drive for muscularity.”

The study was one of the first to look at the association between men’s beliefs about their penis size, how they feel about their bodies, and psychological wellbeing. It was completed online by more than 700 men aged 18-76 from 43 countries.

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