Stressed-Out Guys Go For Heavier Gals

Our friends at YouBeauty report the results of a very interesting experiment on attraction. Turns out men who undergo more stress prefer curvier women. Find out why!

Think men always go for the waif over the “healthy” girl? Think again. New research by Viren Swami, Ph.D., a Reader in Psychology at the University of Westminster in London and YouBeauty Attraction Expert, found that men under stress had increased preference for heavier female figures.

QUIZ: Participate in Dr. Swami’s Latest Study

That’s right, stress made these men covet curvy chicks.

In the study, 81 heterosexual men were assigned to either a stress group or a control. In the stress group, the men were told to play the role of a job applicant on an interview, to give a five-minute speech and to complete some tricky arithmetic—enough to give anyone a case of the sweats. The participants then rated photos of women, from the emaciated to the obese. The newly-stressed men rated heavier female body sizes highest and were attracted to a wider range of female figures than men in the control group.

MORE: Meet The Researcher, Viren Swami, Ph.D.

Why? Swami explains that a stressed or hungry person might be drawn to a mate who looks like she can fend for herself, not one who needs protection. “When people are stressed, they might prefer more mature physical characteristics, because maturity indicates that people can handle the stress,” he says. (Editor’s note: “Mature” is researcher-speak for “has some meat on her bones.”)

These findings fit with conclusions from Swami’s other studies about what we find attractive. People tend to prefer figures associated with status and resources. In poor, rural areas, for example, resources might afford you the ability to buy more food and avoid working with your hands, so the richer you are, the heavier you are. The opposite might be true in urban areas, where money affords you a gym membership and organic vegetables. In these cases, thinness, not heaviness, signifies wealth.

So, should those of us with a little extra cushion go trawling Wall Street for stressed-out traders? Not so fast, says Swami, who prefers to draw the larger, more meaningful conclusion that the ideals of beauty are not fixed. They can be soft and giving—like a womanly body.

QUIZ: Do You Have a Healthy Body?

Related Articles