Men may prefer big women when facing big troubles: study
According to a study in the free online journal PLoS One, stress tends to make men prefer larger women.
The researchers took 81 men and split them into two groups – with one being the control group and the other the experimental group.
The men in the experimental group were then subjected to the Trier Social Stress Test, which raises stress levels by simulating a job interview before a panel of four people, and has the person being tested deliver a five minute speech introducing himself and present an argument on why he should get a certain job.
After this they were told to serially subtract 13 from 1022 as fast and as accurately as possible.
Twenty minutes later the men were taken into a different room, where they were shown a range of pictures of women, with their body types ranging from emaciated to obese, which they were told to rate from most attractive to least attractive.
The men who had undergone the social stress test rated significantly heavier women as being more attractive than those in the control group did, and idealised a greater variety of female body shapes.
“That is men in the experimental condition rated women of normal weight, overweight, and, partially at least, obese BMI categories as more attractive than the control group,” the researchers wrote.
The researchers are careful to warn however that due to limitations in the design of their experiment – for example boredom may have affected the control group’s judgements and the test group’s self esteem may have taken a knock from the Trier Social Stress Test thus changing their levels of empathy - further study with an improved methodology may be required.