Men prefer heavier women when stressed: Study

A new study indicates that putting men under stress can lead them to find overweight women more attractive.

The new study, led by researchers Viren Swami of the University of Westminster and Martin Tovee of Newcastle University, alleges that men who are put under stress have a higher preference toward overweight women than men who are relaxed.

Swami and Tovee randomly selected a group of men and asked them to take part in a mock interview designed to elevate their stress levels. The control group, which also comprised of randomly selected men, just had to wait quietly in a room.

Afterwards, two groups were taken to a separate room and asked to evaluate 10 photos of women ranging from emaciated to obese.

Next, the participants rated the figure they found most physically attractive, the largest figure they found physically attractive, and the thinnest figure they found physically attractive.

The results showed that participants from the stress group showed a much higher preference than the control group toward normal weight figures and obese figures.

Researchers also found that the ideal figure chosen by the stress group was a lot larger than that of the control group.

In addition, the stressed-out men rated a significantly heavier body than the other group as the largest figure they found attractive. However, there was no notable difference between the groups in the thinnest figure they found attractive.

"These results indicate that human attractiveness judgments are sensitive to variations in local ecologies and reflect adaptive strategies for dealing with changing environmental conditions," researchers wrote.

The study was published in online science journal PLoS ONE.