Stressed Men Prefer Heavier Women
Some men prefer blondes, some brunettes, but men who are stressed prefer heavier women, according to a new study, published in the journal PLoS ONE. Researchers found that men who are stressed are more likely than their non-stressed peers to rate heavier women as attractive.
Researchers subjected 41 men to stress-inducing tasks and then asked them to rate how attractive they found women ranging from emaciated to obese. Compared to a control group of 40 women, the stressed group rated heavier women as more attractive.
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"Our body size preferences are flexible and can be changed by environment and circumstance," explains Martin Tovee, study author and researcher with the University of Westminster in London, told ABC News. "We need to understand the factors shaping body preferences."
While the findings are new, researchers said that it just adds to the mounting evidence that stress affects our perception of the world.
"Stress, both acute and chronic, has profound effect on how we process new information both cognitively and emotionally," Dr. Igor Galynker, associate chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Beth Israel Medical Center, who was not involved in the study, told ABC News.
Tovee said that the mechanism of preferring heavier women during stressed times could be an evolutionary advantage.
"If you live in an environment where food is scarce, being heavier means that you have fat stored up as a buffer and that you must be higher social status to afford the food in the first place," he said. "Both of these are attractive qualities in a partner in those circumstances."
Ultimately, researchers said that the findings could be used to treat people with anxiety disorders.
"The information from this article could be useful in therapy of anxiety and eating disorders," Galynker said."The information could be an alternative to thoughts such as, 'I am fat; no man would find me attractive.'"
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