When it comes to women, you know your ideal body type, right? It may not be that simple, though. British researchers recently found that stress levels affect what men find attractive, with more stressed men preferring a wider range of female body sizes.
In the study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, men rated the attractiveness of pictures of women of many different body sizes—from emaciated to obese.
Half of the men were put in a stressful situation—a mock interview that involved public speaking—before looking at the pictures. Stressed men rated heavy women as more attractive, when compared to their non-stressed counterparts.
Previous research has shown that, when it comes to body size, what we find attractive is not set in stone. In many cultures, men living in environments with limited or unpredictable food sources tend to prefer larger women. The brain may associate fatness with access to resources, making heavy women look better when food is scarce.
The current study showed that even short-term increases in stress levels could shift men’s preference for ideal body size in women. Although the effect wasn’t as great as what you’d see in people living in a barren desert, the researchers still described it as a “moderate” change.
If you are on the prowl for a girlfriend, consider your stress levels before you head out to the nightclub or bar. It might also be good to eat before you leave home—other studies have shown that hungrier men also prefer heavy women.