A study in England has found that men coping with stress more often prefer larger women than men who aren't stressed at all, an insight that builds on earlier findings about how experiencing stress affects body-size judgments, often leading people to be attracted to more "mature" body types.
Viren Swami from the University of Westminster in London along with Martin Tovee from Newcastle University cobbled together 81 white British men, randomly assigning them to be placed in either stressful or relaxing situations. The men who were to experience some stress in the name of science were subjected to a fake interview, while the men who were just going to chill out in the name of science were placed in a quiet room where they could just think about all the stupid things academics do with grant money.
After having their disparate sit-downs, the subjects were asked to look at rate the attractiveness of photographed women ranging from emaciated to obese. The men who'd been subjected to a stressful situation rated larger women more favorably than the men who weren't stressed, though the study authors didn't say whether the stressed men exclusively preferred larger women or were simply more amenable to body types deviating from a certain cultural "ideal."
Previous research into body-type preference has figured that people in stressful situations, i.e. times when money or other resources are scarce, prefer heavier partners because if someone's carrying around extra weight, it probably means that they have access to a steady supply of food and are consequently healthy. Similarly, when someone is dealing with emotional stress of the sort that subjects in this latest study experienced, a larger, more mature body may indicate that a prospective partner is better equipped to deal with tough times. In other words, from this very limited study, science has taught us that we're all just looking for that special person with shoulders broad enough and backs sturdy enough to help share the heavy burden of our overloaded stress knapsacks.
Stress Makes Men Appreciate Larger Women [LiveScience]
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