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26 March 2007
What's Average?
by Paul Aitken

Admit it. You've done it. Most likely in your adolescence when you first noticed it was getting bigger, or maybe later when you noticed everyone else's was big and yours wasn't. At some point almost every guy measures himself if only as an act of reassurance. The first ruler was invented in 1675 and I'm guessing it was measuring some guy's dick before 1676.

Most of us have a number in our heads, no doubt rounded up to the nearest quarter-inch of where the end of our dick sits next to the ruler. Most of us when pressed as to what this number is will jack that figure up another quarter or half inch. If asked, I would answer quite truthfully, "Oh I don't know, somewhere between 6 and 8 inches." And then with a grin and a shrug I'd admit that it was probably closer to six. In truth, my maximum skin-busting erection never exceeded a hair's width over six inches.

So there's a lot of misinformation out there about dick size. Most porn stars list their dicks in the 10" to 13" range. In truth, hardly any of them exceed 10" inches. Even the legendary dick of Ron Jeremy topped out at 9.75". Most adult film actors measure somewhere around 8 inches. Now, don't get me wrong, that's still one hell of a dick. Hold up a normal sized sheet of paper. Its width is 8.5 inches. Imagine something that size sticking out from your loins. Now imagine something the length (11 inches) of that paper. Ever seen any dick that big on-screen or off? I sure haven't. And I'm betting if you whipped something like that out of your pants more women would be running away than coming forward.

Most of us, whether from watching porn or listening to friends brag about their imaginary seven-and-a-half inches, have been left with a pretty misguided notion of what the average sized dick actually is. But what is average? If we were to add up the length of every erect adult penis in the world and divide the total by the number of penises, what would that result be? Well, the answer is anywhere from 5 to 6.5 inches, depending on which study you want to rely on. That's right; after dozens of rigorous scientific studies conducted in every part of the world, the only thing we can tell you with certainty is that if you're less than 5 inches you're smaller than average and if you're larger than 6.5 inches you're bigger than average. But what if you're in between? An inch-and-a-half is a big variance. In any particular study it's roughly the difference between the 10th and 90th percentile. How, you may ask can there be such a discrepancy between results? Well, it turns out that it's damnably hard to accurately gauge the size of the average erect dick.

Why is it so, er, hard? It certainly seems simple enough: get a stiffy - whip out ruler. Ah, but as any man can tell you. There are stiffies and then there are stiffies. The difference between a half-assed erection and a raging hard-on can be as much as an inch. Then there's the methodology. Where do you measure from? Along the top? Along the side? From the bottom? Each method gives a different result.

Next, you have to ask; who's doing the measuring? A white-coated scientist, a bikini-clad babe, or the subject himself? Perhaps the most famous and oft quoted study was conducted by Alfred Kinsey in the 50s and 60s. Kinsey provided 3,500 subjects with postcards against which they were to mark the maximum extent of their erection. About 2,500 men responded and the average turned out to be 6.25 inches in length. Another study using similar methodology in 1996 got similar results (6.38 inches).

The problem here is what has become known as "self-reportage bias." Even when assured that the results are completely anonymous, guys tend to exaggerate. You'd think it would be the opposite. That they'd deliberately underestimate the size of their penises in order to skew down the average size to which they would then compare themselves more favorably. Self-reportage bias is a real phenomenon and has been observed in numerous surveys on everything from drinking habits to stated income. In fact, a whole school of statistical analysis has developed on how to adjust for this bias.

Next, you need to ask who is being measured? Selection bias is a real problem when it comes to measuring dicks. If you're selecting men at random to submit to having their dicks measured you can bet that the only ones likely to step-up are men who are comfortable with their size. So the results from that group are likely to be skewed towards a larger average. Conversely, if your study group is a bunch of guys who are signing up for dick enlargement surgery, you can expect the average to be skewed in the other direction.

Then you have to ask where the study is being conducted. Different populations may have different average sizes. You've probably heard rumors about African men being proportionately large and East Asian men being proportionately small. These rumors seem to have some basis in fact, although the extent of the difference appears to be exaggerated.

Finally, how large is the sample size? If it's only 20 men, a single large or small dick can skew the results.

A definitive study would involve a large and completely random selection of men from a wide variety of human populations (or a similarly large and completely random selection within a specific population depending on whom you're measuring yourself against). It could be conducted free of bias using exactly the same methodology for each subject. And it would be conducted on penises at peak erection. This is a pretty tall order and not surprisingly, out of the dozens of studies conducted, not a single one has conformed to all of these requirements.

Perhaps the single greatest difficulty in measuring the erect dick is the variation in the erection size of a single individual. We all know when we're busting a maximum stiffy, but we can't always conjure one up at a moment's notice, especially in a clinical setting. To counter this problem, one study measured every guy coming out of a nightclub on spring break. They used attractive women to act as "fluffers" to help them build up a head of steam. And it seemed to work. The experiment is seen as one of the most definitive and the average came in at 5.9 inches.

Another method is to eschew erections period. Apparently, there is a very strong correlation between the length of an erection and the length of the same penis when fully stretched. This makes sense as dicks are only partially elastic. They're more like the bellows of an accordion than an elastic band. You can pull them out a fair ways, but then they come to a point where no amount of tugging will make them any longer. Indeed, it is thought that the size of the penis is a direct function of the capacity of the tunica albuginea, a tough fibrous sheath that surrounds the corpus cavernosa. Once the tunica albuginea is maxed out, that's it, bub.

Of course, with this approach you need to really yank on the thing to get the maximum stretch. Most studies don't do this and accordingly the results for stretched penis length come in at about a quarter-inch less than studies on erect length.

So where does that leave us? Well, perhaps the best way to determine the average penis size is to take an average of the averages. While there may be a difference of an inch and a half between the averages of all the studies conducted, the studies, like the penises they measured tend to be arrayed along a bell curve. The average "average" is slightly more than 5.75 inches. And if you look at our penis size survey, you'll see it comes in at around same value.

So, here's how to tell if you're average. Wait until you're sporting a maximum stiffy, then lay a ruler along the top of your penis. You can buy an extra 0.5" by measuring along the side and you can probably eek out another 0.25" by pushing the ruler in until it hurts. But as you do this, ask yourself who it is exactly that you're trying to kid. If you top out at 5.5", then you're slightly smaller than average. If you break the six inch barrier then you're slightly bigger. If you're anywhere in between you are the medium, mode and median all wrapped up in one. You're average, bub.

Further reading:
Our Survey
Growers And Show-ers
Size Around The World
Body Image Disorder Affecting More Men

Related Websites:
Mr Average Penis
Erect Penis Size Study
Unhung Heroes




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