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Stressed-out Men Prefer Heavier Women

Aug 09, 2012 07:17 AM EDT
obese woman
New research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reveals that a person's risk of developing severe obesity later in life is linked to whether they are obese at age 25.
(Photo : Tony Alter/Flickr)

A new research finds out that stress causes men to get attracted to obese women than preferring normal women.

Psychologist Viren Swami of the University of Westminster in London and his colleague Martin Tovee of Newcastle University found that men who are facing stress prefer to choose curvy or obese women as they believe that such women will be more matured than the figure-conscious women.

For their study, researchers assigned various tasks such as attending a mock job interview and waiting in a relaxed state to 81 British white male university students to find out the psychological effect of stress on them. While one group attended the mock interview, the other group was asked to wait quietly in a room.

The students were then shown photos of women with body sizes varying from very thin to obese to rate their attractiveness. 

They revealed that the men who were stressed out found normal and fat women to be more attractive than the men who were in a relaxed state. The rate of attractiveness was higher for heavier women among stressed-out men as they see the women in a mature figure and someone who could handle a situation in a much better manner.

While earlier studies have shown that stress not only impacts the physical features, this study also shows that stress also impacts men's judgment on varying body sizes. 

"These results are consistent with previous experimental work indicating that the experience of stress leads participants to prefer more mature physical characteristics, but extends earlier studies in showing that the stress also impacts on body size judgements," the researchers wrote in the paper.

It was also found that judgment on human attractiveness is susceptible to changes in environmental conditions. "The present results provide support for the suggestion that human attractiveness judgements are sensitive to variations in local ecologies and may reflect adaptive strategies for dealing with experiences of threat," they said.

According to the researchers, the study could help in understanding cross-cultural differences in body sizes. The findings have been published in the journal PLoS ONE.

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